UAE figure skater urges Muslim girls to break barriers

Zahra Lari, the first Emirati to take part in winter uni games

25 March, 16:59

    (ANSAmed) - NAPLES, MARCH 25 - UAE fire skater Zahra Lari said her performance at the Universiadi winter World University Games in Krasnoyarsk wasn't the best but the important thing was the message she wanted to give young Muslim women: ''Follow your heart and don't let anyone stop you''.

    Lari was the first Emirati woman to participate in the winter edition of the Universiadi, recently held in the Russian city, in Siberia, far from Dubai, where the 24-year-old grew up and learned how to skate.

    In an interview published on the official website of the International University sports Federation (FISU), Lari urged young Muslim women to break barriers: ''No matter what you do in life there's always going to be people criticizing you. Just surround yourself with a good team and your family and you'll definitely succeed''.

    And Emirati women are following her lead, participating in sports they previously could not compete in, like soccer, swimming and il taekwondo.

    The young skater started late compared to her colleagues. She learned how to skate at 10 but progressed fast and now wants to reach the top and break taboos. She was the first Muslim athlete to skate in front of an international jury wearing the hijab, also becoming the face of an international sports brand. ''It's amazing and it shows that these big brands really want to support an idea'', she said. ''They believe in me and they know that I can do it, so now I just have to believe in myself''.

    Lari was the first UAE athlete to compete at the FISU Winter Games and carried her country's flag at the opening ceremony.

    ''My performance was not the best and my scores were not the best. But it's a learning experience. I have to go to these bigger competitions, gain more experience [and learn] how to control the pressure and the nerves'', she was quoted as saying by FISU.

    However, Lari said her message counted more than her scores.

    ''It's just me trying to show the world that, yes I am covered, but I can (still) do what I love and do it at an international level'', she said.

    ''So that's the main message that I'm trying to send to girls, don't let anything stop you from doing what you love and especially because you're covered''.

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