6-year-old gymnast Lamia Alfarsi, the little wonder of the UAE

Hiba Khan 15/05/2017
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Emirati prodigy Lamia Tariq Alfarsi added another feather to her cap after finishing first in the International Emirates Cup in Dubai.

The six-year-old sensation beat the challenge of Angela Scudella from UAE, in second, and Myroslava Merkulina from Ukraine, to take home the crown.

The young Emirati rhythmic gymnast dazzled the judges with a stellar performance that left her mother teary-eyed and everyone else in awe of her abilities.

Lamia was competing in Category C of the tournament for the sub-division “Baby” that included those who were born between the years 2011 and 2013. The performances were scored and evaluated on the gymnasts’ flexibility, agility, balance, pirouettes and leaps. Lamia’s performance was clean and controlled that helped her obtain a solid 10.3 from the judges.

It has been quite a journey for Lamia, who was scouted by Ksenia Dzhalaganiya, a retired Russian rhythmic gymnast and founder and director of Dubai Youth Olympic School of Rhythmic Gymnastics in UAE, a little over a year ago.

It has also been challenging for Lamia’s parents – Tariq Ali Abdallah Malallah and Malak Tariq Alfarsi.

“Doing gymnastics is quite new to the country; we are used to football and riding, but starting out at a young age to become a gymnast is difficult and at first, even Lamia was not comfortable with the training and vehemently rejected it. However, once her body got accustomed, she began to accept it and is
even willing to learn more. She now has a goal to win an Olympic gold medal,” Lamia’s mother Malak told Sport360.

“We wish to see Lamia representing UAE in all major competitons. As Emiratis, we should encourage our kids to become more involved in sports, whether it’s female or male, we should all try to contribute. Most importantly, our country is already on the maps, so why not in sports also,” she added.

The trials and tribulations were many, but they were all easily overcome by Lamia with the support from her parents, as she continues to divide her time between school and her rigorous training under Ksenia.

“It was mostly Ksenia who discovered Lamia’s hidden talent and thought she had real potential. She was doing ballet and then Lamia took a trial class with us, and that’s how the story began. She has been wonderful and we are very happy with her progress,” said Cem Saral, co-founder of Dubai Youth Olympic School of Rhythmic Gymnastics and husband of Ksenia.

Saral and Ksenia want the Emirates Cup to become a regular event to serve as a platform to showcase budding talent from the region.

“We have no intention to become a commercial-driven school. For us, our main aim was to raise awareness about the sport and get more people to participate. Our future plan is to make sure that we make Emirates Cup a legacy and an institute, and we want more UAE attendance in these events,” he said.

The victory at the first edition of the Emirates Cup is surely one of the many that are to come Lamia’s way and she is already gearing up and training to represent UAE in Nice, France this coming July.

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Kevin Hart talks Nike's Breaking 2, fitness and NBA playoffs

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Kevin Hart.

Renowned for his performances on stage and in film, comedian Kevin Hart is one of the most recognised and popular figures in Hollywood.

His humour and infectious personality entertained audiences at Nike’s Breaking 2 in Monza and after spending the previous two hours as a special guest MC, he still cuts an imposing figure as he bounces into the press room, as lively as ever.

It’s just 15 minutes since Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya ran the world’s fastest marathon and the Philadelphia native is eager to reflect on what we’ve just witnessed in Northern Italy.

“It was amazing. We came out to see history being made. We saw someone who really pushed themselves to the limit like I’ve never seen anyone do it before,” Hart told Sport360.

“I mean, 2:00:25 marathon, is unheard of, but the fact that he not only did it, but at the end of it, he was able to maneuver, go and speak, engage with fans. You are looking at someone who you’d refer to as a machine from this point on.”

“As a fan of the sport, and someone who has respect and admiration for those who attempt it, it was great to see.”

He shuffles in his seat – his hands in his red zip-up and black tracksuit pants – but remains funny, open and engaging. For a man of only 5’4, he’s built like the base of a tree, which reflects the dedication to his training considering he’s abroad for the majority of the year.

On Instagram, Hart often shares pictures working out to his 51.7 million followers – running and even lifting weights with household names like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. He’s partied with Ludacris, Jennifer Lopez, Jay Z and Drake and even did a multi-million view commercial with David Beckham earlier this year for H&M. A magical lifestyle for those who look in from the outside.

“I’m a guy who believes in regimen,” he said. “I love to be on schedule. (I train) six days a week in the gym, bright and early, mixing it up with running, fitness on all levels, anywhere from core training to strength training to body weight training.”

“I like the fact that you can get out of your body what you put into it. I have a heavy demand that I put on myself so the results I expect are very high. The more I engage in physical fitness and the more I adapt to this healthy lifestyle that I’ve created, the more I’m ultimately going to be.”

Away from the draining work that comes with life on the road, Hart is a massive Philadelphia 76ers and Philadelphia Eagles fan. With the NFL season over and the Sixers bowing out during the regular NBA season, he still holds a keen interest in the playoffs, where Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are currently inching towards a repeat of last year’s final.

“I’m big on history so any time you can simply say you are in a position to witness it, it’s a big deal. What LeBron James’ is doing and what he’s done is great, and looking at the Warriors, the position they have put themselves in is amazing,” he said.

“If you are a fan of the sport then this is the time you love – the playoffs – this is where the nitty gets gritty and where people step up to the plate like they never have before. I’m curious to see what the outcome is going to be. Unfortunately, the ‘Sixers aren’t in there, so I’m just rooting as a fan of the overall sport.”

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