Dubai: Young ice-skater Lyudmila Zykova may only be five years old but she has already set her sights on the very pinnacle of ice-dancing.
Mila, as she is known, is a Year One student at GEMS Royal Dubai School in the UAE and is already skating her way to stardom, winning countless competitions across the UAE on the way.
As a determined youngster, Mila took up the sport back home in Kazakhstan before her family moved to Dubai. Her parents tried to get her involved all sorts of sports and activities, but Mila’s then three-year-old heart was clearly set on skating, illustrating the resolve and focus that has set her on the way to the very top in the sport. Her dedicated coach Svetlana Volkova, who has 28 years of experience as a choreographer-director, is confident young Mila is just setting out on a journey that can see her compete with the best in the world.
“The progress is clear to see,” says Svetlana. “I have been coaching for a long time and when you compare her progress with that of the top skaters in the world — such as Alexandra Trusova, who is now 16 — Mila is already at that same level they were at five and six. So her future looks so bright to be one of the best skaters in the world.”
Now settled in the UAE, Mila trains six days a week to develop and improve her skills. Her day begins at 5.30am with stretching and ice time, she then hits the ice again in the afternoon after school.
“When she was three, she was watching the skating on the television and she said: ‘That is what I want to do’,” explains her mother Tanya. “It was purely her decision. We were afraid she was too small at three, but she was determined so we set her up with coaching and she simply thrived and we are seeing the results.
Another factor in her inspiration to take up the sport was — back in Kazakhstan — there was a famous skater called Denis Ten who was an Olympic medallist. He was sadly killed in the city, but his story was turned into a movie and that in turn inspired Mila to get into skating.”
Tanya adds with a laugh: “A lot of people can find the going tough when they train hard for their chosen sport, but with Mila, sometimes we have to drag her off the ice as she doesn’t want to stop and will just carry on and carry on for hours.”
Mila’s mother is quick to acknowledge the input from GEMS which allows Mila to progress on the ice. Her many medals have been won against competitors much older than her five years, with GEMS Royal Dubai School allowing flexibility in her class times so she can fit in her training during set ice times at Skate Gate and Al Nasr Leisureland rinks,
“We have to thank the teachers at GEMS RDS for the way they accommodate Mila’s schedule,” she says. “Principal Vicky and her staff have been the best. Miss Charlotte and Miss Emma helped so much during the online teaching and also they have set up a special schedule for her so she can leave school a bit early to get to the rink.
“Also everyone at Skate Gate and here at Leisureland have been brilliant. They see the level Mila is at and give her such support going forward to the future.”
But the last word goes to Mila herself, who puts it as simply as she takes to the ice. “I just love it,” she says before sprinting off to get more spins in.