No food, no worries for top CU tennis player during Ramadan

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Colorado’s no. 1 singles and doubles player Aya El Sayed fuels her body only after sundown for the grueling tennis demands during the holy month.

BOULDER, Colo. — For elite athletes, food is fuel. But during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, star Colorado Buffaloes tennis player Aya El Sayed is only fueled after sundown.

“I’m basically fasting from the sunrise to the sunset every day for like 30 days,” she said.

“That’s actually funny because a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, so you’re fasting but you can drink water, right?’ and I’m like, no, I’m not water fasting, I’m actually fasting.”

With more than 13 straight hours of sunlight each day, it’s crucial that Aya gets the proper nutrition prior to sunrise. The CU nutrition staff keeps a close eye on her intake.

“They just talk to me about the important stuff about fueling your body the right way with electrolytes too because it helps me not be as thirsty,” she said. “I make sure I eat a lot of protein with some carbs too, probably some eggs with cheese and yogurt and bread.”

One of the tenants of Ramadan is community. Aya is thousands of miles away from her family in Egypt, but her tennis family surrounds her with the support she needs in Boulder.

“I think people found this impressive. Even my teammates, I just love how supportive they are. They check on me even when we’re practicing here,” she said. “Since I’m fasting, they want to make sure I’m good. I just love how supportive and acceptable of the things I’m doing.”

She’s even inspired a few of them to experience her culture firsthand.

“Three of my teammates do want to try and at least do one day in the weekend maybe when we’re not practicing, because I know if it’s a day like this, it’s probably going to be brutal for them, especially if they’re not used to it,” she said. “So, a lot of them have been talking about trying a weekend and then we can break our fast together somewhere.”

Ramadan began March 10 and ends April 9 this year.

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No food, no worries for top CU tennis player during Ramadan

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