Gymnastics lead
Lamia Tariq Malallah clinched the gold medal in the Besiktas JK Cup in Istanbul. Turkey's Dila Yilmaz (left) finished second. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: UAE’s Lamia Tariq Malallah is targeting a place in the Youth Olympics after achieving a ‘great honour’ of representing the country in the Besiktas JK Cup in Istanbul over the weekend and capping it with a gold medal in her first international competition since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s a great honour to be the first Emirati to be nominated as a national gymnast. I wanted to bring more glory to the country,” Lamia said after her gold medal-winning performance.

Undeterred by the challenge

The 11-year-old, who has been nominated by the UAE General Authority of Sports and UAE National Olympic Committee, to represent the UAE, faced a big test from competitors from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kuwait and the hosts Turkey. It only got harder when she had to compete against stronger rivals after the organisers had merged both years 2010 and 2011 A categories.

Undeterred by the challenge on hands, Lamia competed against 14 other rivals in ribbon, hoop, ball and clubs with many of them picking ribbon as their choice of apparatus.

Lamia scored a total of 21.100 to finish first in while her Turkish component Dila Yilmaz in 2010 age group placed second with a score of 16.100.

Lamia and her coach Polina Averina during the Besiktas JK Cup in Istanbul. Image Credit: Supplied

Her coach Polina Averina stuck to her tactic of resting and training so as not to over exhaust her. As soon as she realised that the Emirati would compete against older girls, she immediately gave her the advice on what to improve so as to try and increase the scoring.

In her clubs apparatus, she unfortunately dropped as the apparatus slipped and she lost points, and so scored 18.400 where marks were deducted due to the drop.

In clubs, first place went to Turkish national Elif Pekacar 2010 age group with a score of 22.00, while Lamia placed second and won silver.

Disheartened build-up

Lamia competed locally in Dubai a month ago at Stryx Cup and took the second and third places, which disheartened Lamia, who was used to ruling the podium previously. She has won medals in international competitions in France, Germany and Russia with Tashkent being her last in 2019 before Covid hit.

Rhythmic gymnastics combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, dance and apparatus manipulations. Each movement involves a high degree of athletic skill and therefore demands strength, power, flexibility, agility, dexterity and endurance — a hard task at any age.

Train harder for next season

Competing internationally after the pandemic has helped Lamia realise the level of the competition and has given her the right insight into what she needs to work on to be successful at this level.

Over the summer break, Lamia intends to train in Russia with her coach’s to change and build new routines to start afresh for the next season with the aim of increasing her scores.

It’s still a long road ahead of the young rhythmic gymnast, which she is willing to do her best and reach the goals.