What do young Iraqis do for fun and recreation?
You know, Iraq has two rivers (Tigris and Euphrates). In the summertime, because of the heat, most of the young boys of my generation go to the riverfront from all over the place to cool down and swim. Of course, there are other sports to participate in, but because of the heat, we’d rather just be by the side of the river. For us, as members of the Olympic team, we train on a regular basis to promote ourselves to participate in the Olympic Games.
What activities can’t you do during Ramadan?
Overall, our religion, Islam, says you have to fast, but for us as swimmers, we train very hard during the summer. And as you see, this is an Olympic-sized swimming pool and yet we don’t have air conditioning, we don’t have power, and the water’s not that cold. And as you know, swimmers need more oxygen to train. Regrettably, we have to break our fast during the month of Ramadan to train.
What are you learning in this last year of school before college? And where will you go next?
In the last year of high school, they teach us Arabic and Islamic studies, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and English. Definitely, I will go to the College for Sports in Baghdad.
What do you want to do in the future?
As you know, I’m a member of the Olympic team -- I would like to be a distinctive one. And in the future, I would like to be a trainer for the next team to promote the organization and to serve my country Iraq in the future.
Is there anything that concerns you about living in Iraq?
For us, the young generation, the only thing that worries us, and we fear it, is the security situation in Iraq. You’ve heard in the news what happens on a daily basis, all of the violence. This is really worrying us. And we hope that it will go down and we can live in peace in Iraq.
What’s your opinion of the American troops leaving? Do you think security will get better or worse?
For the present time, the pull out of the American troops does not give me a sense of security. But at the same time, I hope that the Iraqi army and the Iraqi forces will extend their training so it will be more powerful securing the situation.
What keeps Iraqis going in these difficult circumstances?
As a sportsman and an Iraqi, the thing that keeps me going is life itself. You have to overcome all the problems that’s handed to you. Despite these problems, life will continue and will keep you going. As an Iraqi, you have to be rigid and take it -- no matter what “it” is -- because that will push you toward a good future.
What do you want American youth to know about Iraqi young people?
I hope that they never forget how difficult it is for the Iraqi youth to live in a situation like this. I’m not saying that I want them to have this experience, because it’s a bad experience. Because this time of life, it will push you toward the future and you can have a good option, which probably we don’t have because of the situation.