UAE women’s youth cy­cling goes up a gear

Team is vic­to­ri­ous at first Teen Sports & Fit­ness Awards

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORT - adrian@7days.ae By Adrian Back @aidy­back

Na­dia Shams has al­ready tasted plenty of suc­cess in her fledg­ling cy­cling ca­reer, but the Emi­rati teen in­sists she is only just get­ting started.

The 13-year-old is a mem­ber of the UAE Youth Women Cy­cling Team who last month com­peted in the first Gulf women’s cy­cling event. They fol­lowed this up by be­ing named the best fe­male Emi­rati team at the 2016 Teen Sports & Fit­ness Awards last week­end.

Na­dia has only been a mem­ber of the team for the past year, but un­der cap­tain Ab­dulla Swaidan - a for­mer UAE cy­clist and now na­tional team coach - she has quickly found her feet along­side more es­tab­lished mem­bers of the team.

“I have al­ways en­joyed recre­ational cy­cling with my fam­ily, and when I was 12 I wanted to find a com­pet­i­tive sport and cy­cling was the ob­vi­ous choice,” Na­dia told 7DAYS.

“The train­ing is hard as I am the youngest mem­ber at 13-years-old, but our coach is very sup­port­ive of fe­male Emi­rati cy­cling and has worked very hard to build up the squad.

“The team per­formed amaz­ingly at the re­cent Gulf event, win­ning against a very good Kuwait ladies team whose av­er­age age was 27. We came first in the team time trial, sec­ond in the over­all mass team event and Fatma Ha­did - one of the stars of the team - came sec­ond in the in­di­vid­ual time trial.

“I hope that this is just the be­gin­ning and we will be able to rep­re­sent the UAE in many more events, per­haps even at the Arab or Asian games.”

Train­ing up to six times a week and cy­cling be­tween 40-60km ev­ery night, Na­dia also heads into the moun­tains in Fu­jairah to push her­self even harder.

Later this sum­mer she will travel with the rest of the team to France when the tem­per­a­tures soar in Dubai and train­ing be­comes near im­pos­si­ble.

“We tend to train on the roads around Nad Al Sheba in Dubai or around the cy­cling fed­er­a­tion com­plex in Shar­jah, which although are rel­a­tively quiet ar­eas, can still some­times be dan­ger­ous,” said Na­dia. “Not all road users are as con­sid­er­ate to cy­clists and in par­tic­u­lar, some driv­ers do not ap­pre­ci­ate how dan­ger­ous cy­cling is.”

How­ever, this has not wor­ried Na­dia, who has big am­bi­tions and dreams of com­pet­ing pro­fes­sion­ally in cy­cling.

“Per­haps we may be­come the first fe­male Emi­rati team to go to the Olympics or a pro fe­male team com­pet­ing in events in Europe and be­yond,” she added.

“Who knows, with per­haps more young Emi­rati girls see­ing our suc­cess it might en­cour­age them to take up cy­cling; we wel­come all Emi­rati girls.”

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