Exclusive: I wanted to make UAE proud, says Emirati gymnast Lamia after winning gold in Turkey

The 11-year-old Lamia Tariq Malallah won the gold medal at the Besiktas JK Cup in Istanbul



Lamia Tariq Malallah celebrates after winning the gold medal. (Supplied photo)
Lamia Tariq Malallah celebrates after winning the gold medal. (Supplied photo)
by

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Sun 3 Jul 2022, 7:06 PM

Lamia Tariq Malallah, the UAE’s gymnastics prodigy, overcame the jitters to claim the gold medal in the Besiktas JK Cup at Istanbul in Turkey on Saturday night.

Competing in her first international event abroad since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lamia came up with a superlative display to grab the top place in the A category for gymnasts born between 2010 and 2011.

“It was a tough competition last evening as we were not aware that the organisers of the Besiktas JK Cup had merged both years 2010 and 2011 in the A category to make it harder to compete,” Malak Alfarsi, Lamia’s mother and mentor, told Khaleej Times from Istanbul.

But the steep competition could not stop the 11-year-old Lamia from claiming the top spot on the podium as she ended up scoring 21.100, pushing Dila Yilmaz (16.100) of Turkey to the second place in the A category that saw 15 gymnasts compete in ribbon, hoop, ball and clubs.

But Lamia, the only Emirati rhythmic gymnast in the UAE, did have the butterflies in her stomach while entering the arena.

“I was shocked when I realised I was going to compete with girls that are older than me. My heart was racing and I was so nervous,” Lamia told Khaleej Times from Istanbul

“But then I remembered that I had to do my best as I was representing my country, so I had to make my country and all those people who have been supporting me proud. So I did my best and I tried very hard.”

In clubs, Lamia finished second behind gold medallist Elif Pekacar of Turkey.

Lamia, who has set her sights on the 2026 Youth Olympic gold medal, plans to train in Russia as she continues her journey towards gymnastics excellence.

“Competing internationally for the first time after the pandemic helped us understand what elements Lamia needs to work on. During the summer break, we intend to work in Russia with her coach to change and build new routines to start afresh for next season,” said Malak Alfarsi.

“We still have a long road ahead when it comes to Lamia’s future in rhythmic gymnastics. But being nominated as the only Emirati registered as a national team player is an honour, which she needs to uphold. And hopefully, she has made the country proud with her performance in Turkey,” added Malak Alfarsi who has been a constant source of support for Lamia.


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