Lamia Tariq Malallah (right) celebrates after winning gold medal at the Besiktas JK Cup gymnastic competition in Istanbul. Supplied picture
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Famous as the UAE’s little wonder, Lamia Tariq Malallah made the country proud after winning gold at the Besiktas JK Cup gymnastic competition held in Istanbul, Turkey, on Saturday.
Nominated by the General Authority of Sports and the UAE National Olympic Committee to represent the nation at the international events, the 11-year-old repaid the faith by finishing on top in the A category for gymnasts born between 2010 and 2011.
Unfazed despite competing against rivals older than her age, she held her nerve and took the top honours with a final score of 21.100, while Turkish gymnast Dila Yilmaz finished second with 16.100.
A total of 15 gymnasts took part in the A category of the competition, where they competed in ribbon, hoop, ball and clubs.
“I am happy to have won the gold and did my best, but after fighting against older opponents, I realize I need to grow even more, and that means more hard work and training.
“I am so proud that I am able to take my country’s flag to different countries and showcase the UAE’s talent in this sport as well,” said Lamia.
Facing tough competition, she stuck to her coach Polina Averina’s tactic of not to overexert and lose focus, which finally worked in her favour.
It was the first international outing for the Emirati gymnast since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lamia, whose first gold medal came at the age of six when she won the inaugural Dubai International Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in 2017, says she is focused fully on her goal to win gold at the Youth Olympic Games, which is scheduled to take place in Dakar, Senegal in 2026.
“Inshallah, during the summer break, I will be training in Russia with my coach, so I can train 7 or 8 hours a day, which I can’t do in Dubai, and we can work on creating new routines for next season,” said the youngest recipient of the coveted Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, which she won in 2019.
At the age of five, when children are mostly attracted to electronic games and gadgets, Lamia decided to take up rhythmic gymnastics. Her father, Tariq Ali Abdullah Malallah, and mother, Malak Tariq Alfarsi, stood like a solid rock in support of their kid’s decision.
They helped her throughout to continue the sport. Lamia has not disappointed them and has already won six international gold medals, besides dominating local championships.
She also bagged top honours at the International Rhythmic Gymnastics Youth Cup held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 2019.
Lamia also won gold medals at the 2017 Open GR Azur International in Nice, France, and at the 2018 Armonia Cup in Thessaloniki, Greece.
She followed this up with a silver medal at the 2017 Winter Cup in Leverkusen, Germany, and clinched a bronze at the prestigious Novogorsk Winter Cup in Moscow at the end of 2018.
“We still have a long road to get to the goal of Lamias’ future in Rhythmic Gymnastics, but being nominated as the only UAE national team gymnast is a great responsibility, which she needs to uphold and hopefully have made the country proud in this global arena in Turkey,” said Tariq Ali Abdullah Malallah.