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Saudi athlete hopes Eid sheep sacrifice can bring Asiad gold

Indonesian Muslims offer Eid al-Adha prayers on Ampera bridge in Palembang, one of the host cities of the Asian Games

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Aug 22 – As he trains during the Islamic festival of Eid, Saudi taekwondo athlete Ghazi Mushabbab Alasmari says he hopes the sacrifice of a sheep back home will boost his chances of Asian Games gold in Indonesia.

The Islamic world is celebrating Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice, on Wednesday. Muslims traditionally sacrifice animals for the three-day feast, a tribute to the prophet Abraham slaughtering a lamb after God spared Ishmael, his son.

While Saudi Arabia’s Alasmari admitted he is missing his family while competing at Asia’s regional Olympics in Indonesia, he believes his father’s sheep sacrifice will bring him luck.

“Of course I am missing my folks back home. But Inshallah (God willing) if we come back with medals it will be another Eid for us,” Alasmari told AFP.

“My father will sacrifice the sheep for me and Inshallah that will bring me luck here,” he said.

The 27-year-old Alasmari, who will contest the 68kg category on Thursday, has represented his country in two world championships and the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.

Alasmari praised organisers for providing prayer rooms at venues and halls at the Games, which are taking place in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

In co-host city Palembang, some events were rescheduled for the traditional Eid morning prayers, which included a large gathering on the city’s Almera bridge.

Yusuf Wibowo of the Palembang organising committee said sepak takraw and bowling events had been delayed to give athletes time to pray, but shooting would go ahead as planned as the venue was near a mosque.

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– ‘Allah tests you’ –

Alasmari said it was the third time he has not been at home with his family for the festival.

“We celebrate with family, with our cousins and friends. All our extended family whom we cannot meet all season get together on this day,” he said.

“But this time this is my family here in Jakarta and we are all looking to do well for our country.”

Saudi Arabia’s Saeed Salem Almarri, who is part of the women’s taekwondo coaching staff, said he was also missing his relatives.

But he is consoled by the fact that his daughter, who is fighting in one of the weight categories, is with him in Jakarta.

“I am praying that this time away from my country and home gets us results in the form of medals for our team,” Almarri told AFP.

“It is a testing time when you are not with your loved ones at festival time. But Allah tests you in different ways.”

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