Figure skater Zahra Lari, who has her eyes set on the 2018 Olympics, hopes her story inspires all young women to reach for their dreams.
Walt Disney and his characters have inspired many people around the world. Zahra Lari was inspired by the 2005 Disney movie Ice Princess, a figure skating film. It had such a huge impact on the then 12-year-old Lari that she started ice skating herself. In an interview given to The Huffington Post, Lari said that it was the beauty and the artistry of the sport that captured her fascination.
Lari has already represented her country, United Arab Emirates, in various international competitions, in various countries like Hungary, Slovakia, and Italy. As of now, she has her heart set on participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
It was not easy for Lari to keep her balance when she first started ice skating. Fall after fall, however, did not deter her from mastering the sport that hooked her at the age of 12. By 2015, she was practicing four to seven hours a day, at the same time, keeping up with her studies at the Abu Dhabi University.
Her parents, at first, were worried that she would injure herself or that her studies would suffer because of her passion for the sport. At one point, her father even stopped her from skating anymore. However, when her parents realized her intense passion for the sport, they allowed her to continue.
By just participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics Lari will be making history for her country. UAE has been an active participant in the Summer Olympics. However, so far, they have not made their presence in the winter games.
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In 2013, UAE became a part of the International Skating Union. Lari will be the first athlete from UAE to participate in Winter Olympics. Of course, she will be participating in the competition wearing a hijab. Lari will be following in the footsteps of various Muslim athletes who have competed wearing the hijab. The first woman to participate in an Olympics wearing a hijab was Ruqaya Al-Ghasara from Bahrain, in the 2004 Athens games.
Zahra Lari wants all young women to chase their dreams. She wants them to take up sports. She wants them to care for their well-being and health. She does not want them to give up their dreams because of any obstacles. Lari wants all young women, Muslim and non-Muslim, to strive for their own betterment.