April 21, 2004

Iraqi Olympians

Very cool news item from USA Today: bq. With threats of torture gone, Iraqi Olympians rise again For first time in decades, athletes compete without fear: 'We can feel a change' Talking about some of the recent difficulties the athletes have had regarding travel, getting funding, getting equipment, Iraqi Olympic Chairman Ahmed al-Samarrai talks about: bq. Samarrai is laughing now because he knows the travel difficulties, the bombed-out training facilities in Baghdad and the lack of cash are nothing when measured against the cruel history of amateur sports in Iraq. bq. Vicious Olympic czar Uday Hussein, Saddam's son, is dead, and the torture chambers are no more. For the first time in two decades, Iraq and its sports teams are moving out of the shadow of a past in which athletes routinely were subjected to torture and abuse as punishment for poor performance. bq. The battered nation, which sent 40 athletes to the 1980 Summer Games but only four to Sydney in 2000, is expected to qualify in five sports: swimming, track, wrestling, boxing and weightlifting. Two athletes have received wild cards from the International Olympic Committee: Raad Abbas Rasheed in tae kwon do and sprinter Al'aa Hikmet, who will compete in the 100- and 200-meter events. Very wonderful news - for all the nay-sayers, the Vietnamers, the quagmirists... This is what the coalition is here for. This is freedom for these people. Posted by DaveH at April 21, 2004 12:40 PM