Dubai: Four-time national figure-skating champion, Zahra Lari, is set to represent the UAE in one of the most prestigious sporting events worldwide, the Winter Universiade in Russia.

As the first athlete to represent the UAE globally in figure-skating, this competition marks a new milestone for Lari, who hopes to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Lari is the first UAE athlete to ever compete at Winter Universiade.

Earlier this year, Lari competed in the EduSport Trophy 2019 in Romania, where she finished in eighth place and broke her personal score record.

This will be her first participation at the Winter Universiade, where she hopes to break even more personal records and finish in a top position. Lari’s ultimate goal is to become the first UAE athlete to quality for the Winter Olympics.

Lari said: “I’m always honoured to represent my country on the international stage, but the Winter Universiade holds a special place in my heart. It’s one of the biggest competitions that I’ve ever gotten the chance to skate in. As always, I’d like to thank the UAE’s leadership for their support and putting their faith in me, and I’ll work my hardest to make the UAE proud in this competition.”

Organised by the International University Sports Federation (FISU), the first Winter Universiade took place in 1960 and included 16 countries at the time. In 2019, the competition will see 3000 athletes from 58 countries take the field in Russia this week to participate in the Winter Universiade. The event will see esteemed athletes such as Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Mai Mihara and Elizabet Tursynbaeva compete for the title, and Lari hopes to make a strong appearance among such tough competition.

“I have been training really hard this past year, and I was able to significantly improve in many aspects of the sport. There’s always more to work on, but I arrive here with confidence and hope to achieve something great. Whatever happens, to me, it’s always great to compete on the global stage and the experience you gain from it is extremely valuable. So, in a way, I know that whatever happens, I’m going back having learnt a lot and with greater readiness for the next challenge.”

The opening ceremony of the 2019 Winter Universiade will take place on March 2, and Lari is set to compete on the March 8 and 9.