Can Zahra become the UAE's first Winter Olympics athlete?

Ice skater Zahra Lari heads for qualifiers this week in attempt to create history
Zahra Lari. (Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
By Staff writer
Tue 26 Sep 2017 01:37 PM

The UAE’S first and only figure skating athlete, Zahra Lari, is heading to the Winter Olympic qualifiers in an attempt to create history and become the first UAE athlete to compete at the event.

Lari, who became the first international skater to compete wearing a hijab, said her ultimate goal has always been to represent her country.

This has translated into a relentless training with an average of four hours a day, seven days a week for the past seven years.

The 2018 Winter Olympics is scheduled to take place from February 9-25 in Pyeongchang County, South Korea.

Lari said: “My ultimate goal has always been to compete in the Winter Olympics. When I look seven years back, I remember training being pretty hard and lonely sometimes. It was all about my will and not giving up. Now people know me and know my story so I have their support.”

She added: “I am so close now to my goal. And when it gets tough I think of the word Olympics and what that means for my family and nation and that clears my vision and helps me focus on the goal.”

Born and raised in the United Arab Emirates, she first begged her parents to take ice skating lessons after seeing the sport portrayed in a Disney’s Ice Princess.

“When I started skating I’d get deductions for being covered. They (the judges) had never seen covered skaters before, but after holding several meetings, I am now proud to say that Hijabi women can skate free of fear.”

The qualifiers begin on Tuesday and run until October 1.

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