BBC BLOGS - Matt Slater

Archives for August 2011

Compromise key to London 2012's Ramadan clash

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Matt Slater | 17:50 UK time, Friday, 26 August 2011

Bird lovers, dog walkers, public health campaigners, taxi drivers...London's organising committee for the Olympic Games, Locog to its friends, has managed to annoy them all at one point or another in the last six years.

But fans of tufted ducks and enemies of Big Macs are one thing, upsetting almost a quarter of the world's population is another, and that is what seemed to have happened when it became apparent that next year's Games coincide with Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, a time when Muslims are expected to abstain from food and drink during daylight hours.

For the 2,500 or so Muslim athletes expected at London 2012 - not to mention the far greater number of officials, spectators, staff and volunteers - this could not be worse timing: the most important date in their professional lives, clashing with the most important time in their spiritual lives.

The reaction from some sections of the Muslim community was one of outrage at Locog's insensitivity, whilst others asked if the Games could be moved to avoid the disadvantage that fasting competitors would face.

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Chrissie Wellington - triathlon's iron duchess

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Matt Slater | 11:04 UK time, Thursday, 4 August 2011

She is an unbeaten, three-time world champion, who holds every meaningful record in her event, but could probably walk down any British high street totally unnoticed. To say Chrissie Wellington has a low profile is akin to suggesting Joey Barton has an opinion, Darren Clarke gets thirsty or Lewis Hamilton is in a hurry.

Quite why the greatest female triathlete in history is so unheralded in her own land is a mystery to me, her stats are staggering. She routinely beats the best women in the world by an eternity, is usually only bettered by a handful of the men's field and possesses the five quickest women's times for the Ironman distance.

To put that in context, Paula Radcliffe has four of the five best marathon times but would be mobbed if she popped out for a pint of skimmed milk.

Wellington's best time for 26.2 miles, by the way, was beaten by only four women at last year's London Marathon. But they had not already swum 2.4 miles and cycled 112 miles.

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