BBC BLOGS - Matthew Pinsent

Archives for November 2010

Ready for a row in Baghdad

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Matthew Pinsent | 08:39 UK time, Friday, 19 November 2010

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In the coming weeks, I will be off to Baghdad in pursuit of the two Iraqi rowers who are one of our 26 stories of athletes from around the world for World Olympic Dreams.

There are so many great stories and prospects involved in this series: some for their medal potential, some because they are brilliant story-tellers in their own right and some because of their setting.

Haider Rashid and Hamza Hussein are outsiders for a medal in the double scull in London in 2012 but they have done enough in the past to win Asian Games medals and will need to be on top form next year to gain Olympic qualification.

But of course any judgement about their potential has to be balanced by an appreciation of their circumstances. Their equipment might be on a par with the best teams in the world but the River Tigris runs through Baghdad, one of the most violent cities in the world. At times rival militias take pot-shots at each other across the water and there might be days when training is just too risky.

I have always known that an involvement with World Olympic Dreams would mean travelling to Iraq and, while it's a trip I'm relishing from a journalistic point of view it comes with some heavy baggage - literally.

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