James Christie

As the sun set on Thursday, millions of Muslims worldwide began the holy month of Ramadan, when fasting during daylight hours is a religious requirement.

Included in this group are more than 3,000 Muslim athletes and officials attending the London Olympic Games, faced with the challenge of balancing religion with athletic training.

The absence of food and water for about 17 hours during the British day could spell disaster for the last-minute preparation of athletes like Somali-born Canadian Mohammed Ahmed, a 10,000-metre runner from St. Catharines, Ont.

Khaled Belabbas will fast while competing for Algeria in the steeplechase, because for him religion is a bigger part of his life than sport. “I will fast like I always have. It will not be a novelty for me,” he said. He will just feel more exhausted when he crosses the finish line, he said. [Read more…]