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Najah highlights plight of Iraqi athletes

Written by: Staff

DOHA, Dec 4 (Reuters) Iraqi boxer Ali Najah pleaded with the International Olympic Committee today to come to the rescue of the war-ravaged country's athletes.

After destroying Mongolia's Otgonbayer Jigjid 33-8 in the men's light-flyweight preliminaries, Najah said it was impossible for athletes to train under the current conditions in Iraq and that he may not return there after the Asian Games.

''I appeal to the International Olympic Committee to help.

Every day, not only ordinary people, but also athletes are dying,'' he said.

''There is no training as such and I can't go back to Iraq.'' With Iraq's training centres based mostly in the heart of Baghdad, Ali says he had to train alone and spent just three weeks in neighbouring Kuwait preparing for the Asian Games.

''Usually I need four to six months of training, but I pushed myself, my dad is my coach,'' the 26-year-old added.

His team mate, featherweight Suraka Mahdi, is hopeful the situation would improve in time for the Beijing Games in 2008.

''I wish our country will get better so we can get a good training camp for all the boxers in Iraq,'' he said.

''We will train with a good coach when the situation improves in our country. We will do it.'' Iraq has sent a team of 85 athletes to the December 1-15 Asian Games in the Qatari capital, but has yet to win a medal.

Reuters DH RS2036

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