Emi­rati gym­nasts are top notch. Thumbs up says world champ The UAE girls have great po­ten­tial... artis­tic, beau­ti­ful, lean and el­e­gant. Th­ese qual­i­ties point to­wards a bright fu­ture for the coun­try in gym­nas­tics.

Hur­ray! Lamia and mem­bers of Team UAE im­press Rus­sian Olympic star and chief guest Mar­garita Ma­mun at the just-con­cluded First In­ter­na­tional Emi­rates Cup of Rhyth­mic Gym­nas­tics

Khaleej Times - - SPORT - Ram­das Volvoikar

World gym­nas­tics sto­ries don’t come much more in­spir­ing than Mar­garita Ma­mum. The Olympic and seven-time world cham­pion’s Dubai trip for the First In­ter­na­tional Emi­rates Cup of Rhyth­mic Gym­nas­tics was all about mo­ti­va­tion. While the Rio Olympics 2016 showed her com­pet­i­tive spirit which was high­lighted by her al­laround gold-medal win af­ter beat­ing her best friend and train­ing part­ner Yana Kudryavt­seva, Dubai saw Ma­mun in a dif­fer­ent light as she lifted the spir­its of the kids, even vol­un­teer­ing to dis­trib­ute gift ham­pers to the ris­ing stars at the prize dis­tri­bu­tion cer­e­mony on Satur­day. “Apart from be­ing an Olympic cham­pion, I am also an am­bas­sador of the sport and it’s nice to see kids show­ing so much en­thu­si­asm for the game. It’s ba­si­cally about giv­ing back to the sport, which has given me so much joy and plea­sure,” Ma­mun, who came as a chief guest for the event, told Khaleej Times on the side­lines of the five-day event at Al Habtoor City in Dubai.

Fol­low­ing her Olympic gold last year, Ma­mum has been ac­tive in the de­velop­ment and spread of rhyth­mic gym­nas­tics around the world. Dubai was her first stop – Kse­nia Dzha­lagnia, founder of Dubai Youth Olympic School Ry­hth­mic Gym, played a key role in invit­ing her for the event.

Hav­ing seen the splen­did per­for­mance of UAE gym­nasts led by six-year-old Lamia Tariq Malal­lah, who pock­eted 10 medals in the face of stiff com­pe­ti­tion from pow­er­house Rus­sia and 25 other coun­tries over the two days of the com­pe­ti­tion, Ma­mun raised the spir­its of the kids by rat­ing it as a top-notch per­for­mance.

“That’s in­cred­i­ble for the UAE and hats off to the gym­nasts. I be­lieve the gym­nasts have got the right start and they can only get bet­ter in the years to come,” said the 21-year-old dec­o­rated Rus­sian gym­nast, who has scrib­bled her name into the record books many times. “The UAE girls have a lot of po­ten­tial. They are artis­tic, beau­ti­ful, lean and el­e­gant and all th­ese qual­i­ties point to­wards a bright fu­ture for the coun­try in gym­nas­tics,” Ma­mun added.

Mar­garita Ma­mun

Olympic star

Ma­mun, who is also known as the ‘Ben­gal Tiger’ for her Bangladesh­i ori­gin, re­served spe­cial praise for Lamia, who has been the cyno­sure of all eyes af­ter her sec­ond suc­ces­sive gold-win­ning feat. “I think Lamia is a fu­ture star. I watched her per­for­mance yes­ter­day and I was im­pressed with what I’ve seen. And mind you, she has al­ready won a cou­ple of gold in in­ter­na­tional events and she is just six. I had not even started at this age,” Ma­mum re­marked.

Com­ing from the leg­end her­self, the words will def­i­nitely spur Lamia and her co­hort to light up the gym­nas­tics scene in the UAE as the sport looks to find a foot­ing in the coun­try.

Born in 1995 in Moscow to a Bangladesh­i fa­ther and Rus­sian mother, Ma­mun’s in­tro­duc­tion to gym­nas­tics at the age of seven was quite late in terms of in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. How­ever, the late start did not dam­pen her mo­ti­va­tion as her up­ward spi­ral cul­mi­nated with a record-break­ing gold af­ter a dis­play full of grace and el­e­gance in Rio last year. The only gym­nast to have scores over 19 points on all four ap­pa­ra­tus, Ma­mun cre­ated a new Olympic mark un­der the 20-point judg­ing sys­tem with a to­tal of 76.483 points, sur­pass­ing the pre­vi­ous score of Ev­ge­nia Kanaeva at the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics. Ma­mun’s hero­ics also meant for­mer Soviet states have won ev­ery in­di­vid­ual Olympic medal, 18 in to­tal, in the event since 1996.

To suc­ceed, one must never lose fo­cus, ac­cord­ing to Ma­mun. “I have been pas­sion­ate about the game from the start. And in pur­suit of the Olympic gold, I worked on a four-year plan, which meant my life re­volved around train­ing and com­pe­ti­tions. To be a top gym­nast, the kids must have a dream, they must love the game. They have to work hard and un­der­stand that the pres­sure will be there but they must not give up,” she con­cluded.

Photo: Alexan­dra Reshemk­ina

Rus­sian Olympic gold medal­list and seven-time world cham­pion Mar­garita Ma­mun along with UAE’s six-year-old cham­pion gym­nast Lamia Tariq Malal­lah. —

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