“My family is in New York and New York has been hit very hard. Just far from them, it’s been rather difficult.
“My parents, they’re fine. My sister also lives in New York and she’s fine with her family. It’s good to know that they’re okay, but I really hope I can take the time to look every one.”
During the month of Ramadan – which starts this year on the evening of April 23 – Muslims do not eat and drink during the daytime, a practice seen as one of the five pillars of Islam. They can eat before sunrise, and break their fast after dusk every day.
With athletic matches being canceled all over the world, these unusual times at least gave Muhammad, 30, the chance to fast for a whole month, something he normally could not do when competing.
“I certainly use this opportunity to fast more than usual,” he explained. “I always try to fast a few days during this season. To be honest, it is very difficult for me to train as hard as I do and fast.
“I have never been able to do 30 full days or a whole month and this time I promise to really do it. I can do it now because my training is not that strong. There are no big championships to prepare for.”
At this time of the day can last for more than 13 hours in Los Angeles, where New Yorker Muhammad lives. So, fasting is not easy and, of course, there is a desire to be overcome and traditions that must be maintained.
“Growing up, my father always broke his fast with a date and just being in California, I just keep that tradition,” he said.
“I’ve craved sweets at this time, and it’s something that I never really wanted. I’m not such a big, sweet person, but for whatever reason, even last night [April 27] I crave cinnamon buns, I like crossing my fingers that Cinnabon will open. Of course not. So it definitely wants candy; had a couple of Dunkin Donuts last night. “
Dalilah’s father, Askia, was a priest and had ensured Muhammad’s family remained in contact during the crisis.
“My father implies that we need to do this once a week. I don’t think we have done it once a week, but we are indeed trying to take the time to make Zoom calls. Look at everyone’s faces. I have certainly had lots of FaceTiming.”
Olympic potential “heartbreak”
For Muhammad, plans to retain the title he won four years ago were arrested.
“I understand the decision to arrest him in 2021, of course I agree with that,” he said.
“But, for me personally, it’s a little disappointing. We as athletes, our lives are planned for about four years and we know every fourth year will be an Olympics and we sort of schedule our training around it and really our lives, our personal lives. “
“That would be very heartbreaking,” Muhammad admitted. “We sacrifice a lot for the Olympics and only represent our country, and we love what we do.
“I tried hard to get a medal at the Olympics and I will be the defending champion, the Olympic champion, and it is really disappointing. We just have to see how things work.”
Take care of the dogs
With a closed running track, Muhammad has practiced in the grass fields in Northridge, Los Angeles. After initially practicing alone, he has now returned to work with his trainer while keeping a social distance from community members – even though there are dogs to explore.
Muhammad said: “There are many dogs in the park today, many people walk their dogs and dogs don’t do that [social distancing]!
“I really enjoy running for fun again. I think we are very focused on aspects of the competition and, of course, the important thing is to be a professional athlete, but I really just enjoy getting out there and running.”
“It’s just a way for us to express ourselves. Wearing nice clothes, or different clothes, which we usually wear when we are training, so it’s fun,” he said.
“No, I’m not one of those people, not yet. Maybe sometimes go to the grocery store, but that’s all,” he said.