The parent of gold medalist Lamia Tariq Malallah believes action must now be taken to form a UAE gymnastics federation “as soon as possible” if the country wants to compete in the Olympics and achieve more success in future competitions.
Six-year-old Malallah, and Sara Al Muhairi and Lina Hamani, both eight, who all train at Dubai Youth Olympic School for Rhythmic Gymnastics (DYOSRG), impressed the judges with their performances to win medals at the 4th Open GR Azur International Rhythmic Gymnastics tournaments in France earlier this month.
Malallah was crowned champion in the Senior B, 2010-11 category, while Al Muhairi (silver, 2009 C) and Hamani (silver, 2009 B) came second best in their respective competitions.
The feats are more impressive considering DYOSRG were granted special permission to compete in the two-day tournament which attracted more than 170 competitors from 14 nations.
For major international tournaments, every entrant requires a licence from their own gymnastics federation to compete – something which the UAE does not have.
Since her daughter Lamia took up the sport almost a year ago, winning various medals, Malak has been in contact with organisations and following the France achievements, she fears any substantial delay could hinder gymnasts’ prospects in the future.
“We’ve been having talks with the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare and Dubai Sports Council and they said it would take a few months,” she said.
“We need a UAE Gymnastics Federation and if there is one launched, I believe there will be a lot of Emiratis who would be interested to join the sport.
“The girls have done well in France but I feel we would need one as soon as possible if the girls want to continue competing. As they grow older, they would need licences to compete in major overseas competitions which would include the world championships.”
She added: “In France, we didn’t have our own judge. Every nation who competes must have their own judge. How can we take a judge if we don’t have a federation of our own in the UAE?”
For Lamia, the triumph saw her win the first gold for UAE in an overseas competition – a feat that took Malak by surprise.
“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting her to win,” she said.
“I had prepared her and told her after the competition, that you might not win because the judges may not be fair. She was disappointed initially but when she heard her name called out over the speakers, she was elated.”
Prior to visiting Disneyland Paris to celebrate her success, Lamia added: “I did really well and this is what I deserved because I trained hard for this competition and hope to win more medals.”