UAE women’s youth cycling goes up a gear
Team is victorious at first Teen Sports & Fitness Awards
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.”