Lamia Tariq
Lamia Tariq with the UAE flag after winning gold in France. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Lamia Tariq Malallah Al Farsi has been making a splash on the local sporting scene with at least six international gold medals to her credit since she started rhythmic gymnastics at the tender age of 5.

Her first gold medal came as a six-year-old at the inaugural Dubai International Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships held at the Al Habtoor Indoor Complex in 2017.

After that, Lamia went on win gold medals at the 2017 Open GR Azur International in Nice, France, the 2018 Armonia Cup in Thessaloniki, Greece, the Emirates Rhythmic Gymnastics Cup in 2017 followed by the Emirates. She followed this up with a silver medal at the 2017 Winter Cup in Leverkusen, Germany and then with a bronze at the prestigious Novogorsk Winter Cup in Moscow at the end of 2018.

It’s our country that we want to make proud through Lamia’s performances at the international stage. And all we need is the support and direction.

- Malak | Lamia’s mother and coach

The youngest winner so far of the prestigious Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Award for Creative Sports, Lamia’s latest exploits came last month when the eight-year-old Dubai girl won the gold at the International Rhythmic Gymnastics Youth Cup in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

However, now young Lamia finds that with time, she may not be in a position to even compete at accredited and recognised international competitions in the future, if appropriate measures are not initiated by sports authorities in the UAE.

Even though Lamia has among the best instructors in the form of former World Champion Ksenia Dzhalaganiya at the Dubai Youth Olympic School of Rhythmic Gymnastics, the emirati may eventually need to have the technical backing of a governing body for the sport in the UAE.

Lamia Tariq
Lamia Tariq Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

And right on top of this list for the eight-year-old’s progress would be the formation of a governing body that would be crucial to liaise with the international competitions on behalf of the athlete.

“It’s our country that we want to make proud through Lamia’s performances at the international stage. And all we need is the support and direction to be given to this sport of rhythmic gymnastics so that the child can effortlessly concentrate on the sport and give off her best,” Lamia’s mum Malak told Gulf News as the gymnast went through her routines.

“This girl has sacrificed her life as a child so that she can make the UAE proud of what she achieves every time she participates on the international stage. I think about what will happen to her in the next couple of years, when besides being at a totally different level of her sport, she will need a license from a local governing body to participate in recognised competitions or even Olympic qualifying events. But if we continue the way we are at the moment, Lamia will be among the biggest losers simply because the UAE doesn’t have an official association or federation that looks after the interests of gymnastics,” she added.


international gold medals Lamia has so far to her credit since she started the sport as 5-year-old

Despite this, the involvement of the Al Farsi household is full and dedicated. Malak ensures she drops and picks up her elder daughter every day, six times a week, while dad Tariq — a former Al Ahli Club footballer — keeps himself available to accompany the athlete at international competitions.

“We need sponsors. We need all the support we can have. But for the moment, the best thing would be to have a federation that would intercede on behalf of Lamia as she sets her sights on many more medals for the UAE,” Malak stressed.

Dzhalaganiya, a former world and European champion in group exercises with Russia, also agreed that the young athlete needs to get the support from the local authorities. “The FIG (Federation Internationale de Gymnastique) has rules on how to run the sport, and we need to fall in line and adhere to these rules,” coach Dzhalaganiya observed.

“I am here to help and should the UAE request me to lend a helping hand, then I will be more than happy to do so,” she added.

An honoured Master of Sports in rhythmic gymnastics, Dzhalaganiya related how her young student Lamia is growing in popularity due to her exploits in the past couple of years. “She [Lamia] is being followed on social media from countries as far as Russia and Brazil. They want to know how she is faring. Of course, Lamia’s big dream is to represent the UAE at the 2026 Youth Olympic Games [hosts yet to be decided], and I think we need to all get together and help her realise a dream for herself and for the country,” she added.