Iraqi archers ignore dangers in pursuit of gold

Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:41pm EDT
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By Narae Kim

INCHEON South Korea (Reuters) - Speeding cars tear past just meters away, kicking up dust and sand and noise, while the sun beats down remorselessly on the archers standing by the side of the road.

Iraqi archery team captain Mohammed Ali Fayyadh describes the training 'facilities' back home then takes a long, wistful look at the carefully manicured lawns of the brand new Gyeyang Asiad Archery venue here in Incheon.

"We do not have a single archery field in our country," he tells Reuters.

"One time we were training outdoors and the militants began to fight 100 meters away. So we had to stop the training and hide in a bomb shelter to protect ourselves."

Iraq brought six archers to Incheon for the Asian Games, and while winning a medal was always just a distant dream, the fact that they were able to compete at all must be considered something of a victory.

"Sometimes we train right beside the road ... right next to fast cars driving past. It's very dangerous but we have no choice," he told Reuters in an interview.

"Our normal lives in Iraq are very dangerous."

Sectarian violence continues to rage in Iraq, with the United Nations reporting at least 1,420 people were killed in August alone.   Continued...