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http://iraqsport.com/articles/06/24_5.shtml US troops take over Iraqi swimmers' pool By Kamal Taha - BAGHDAD Iraqi swimmers train in murky Tigris river after being kicked out by US officials from only Olympic-sized pool in Baghdad. Iraqi swimmers hoping to make a splash at the world championships in Barcelona next month are having to train in the murky Tigris River because the US Army have taken over the only Olympic-sized pool in Baghdad for their troops, team trainer Faisal Sayed Jaffar said Thursday. Infantry Sergeant Billy Thierry, who is in charge of the al-Qadissiya pool, said his orders were that the Iraqi Olympic team were entitled to use the place only from 6:00 to 8:00 am. "This is totally unfair because most of the 12 members of the Iraqi team are university students. In any case, we need two three-hour training sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon," Jaffar said. Jaffar appealed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and world swimming's governing body FINA to intervene if they are to get their training schedule back on track in time for the championships. He said that when a wave of looting swept the country following the US-led ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime on April 9, team members rushed to the pool complex to salvage what they could. "After three weeks of cleaning and repairing the place, we were kicked out by US officials, who told us not to return," Jaffar said. "All attempts by Iraqi officials to recover the pool were in vain. Hence we have to train in the Tigris even though the conditions are not suitable," he complained. Al-Qadissiya's indoor pool in eastern Baghdad was built by a South Korean firm in 1983 and is the only one with the specifications of sports competitions, in addition to serving as headquarters for the Iraqi Swimming Federation. "Training in a river is very different from training in a swimming pool," Jaffar explained. "There are no walls to turn, the water is too troubled to regulate movements and the pressure of the water on the body is totally different. It will be very difficult to compete with the world's top swimmers." As a result, team members are not always showing up for the training. "US soldiers are using the only suitable pool we have in Iraq for their own entertainment. We have become strangers in our own country," said Omar Faisal, a member of the team. The swimmers meet every afternoon near al-Ima bridge in northern Baghdad wearing ordinary shorts and without swimming goggles since Uday Saddam Hussein, the elder son of the deposed president who headed the Iraqi Olympic Committee, liked only football and gave nothing to the swimmers. Jaffar said that after the orgy of looting that swept Baghdad, he saw on street pavements lots of trunks and goggles that had been tucked away in the cupboards of the Olympic Committee. "I am asking the International Olympic Committee and FINA to contact the US government to obtain the departure of all American soldiers from all Iraqi sports facilities," he added. The Al-Shaab stadium, where soccer tournaments used to take place, and the Saddam basketball hall have also been taken over by the Americans. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk