From Formula E to figure skating, Emirati women have been at the forefront of dominating every sport and this time it’s 10-year-old Amenah Al Muhairi, who is the youngest and the only female Ski Dubai sponsored athlete for freestyle snowboarding.
The talented young Emirati recently won the title of 2018 Female Overall Slopestyle & Big Air Champion title in the UAE National Freestyle Snowboarding Championships which was held at Ski Dubai on November 24.
“I was surprised when I won the title, but after all the hard work I had put in my training I think I deserved it,” Amenah said about the competition.
Amenah, who has three siblings, was introduced to skiing at the age of five by her mother, Maya Cvejic, who is a seasoned winter sport enthusiast herself. The 10-year-old ended up showing a greater interest in snowboarding rather than skiing.
“I have been involved in winter sports all my life and have been skiing since a very young age. So, it was only natural for me to pass on my love for the sport to my children. Amenah started skiing at the age of five and then started snowboarding at the age of seven, which she showed a much greater talent for than skiing,” Maya told Sport360°.
As Amenah’s flair for snowboarding really began to shine through, her parents decided to support and encourage her in her ventures. Despite being home to talents like Amenah Al Muhairi, UAE’s desert heat is not conducive for the growth of winter sports, which is one of the biggest challenges according to Maya.
Facilities like Ski Dubai are vital in fostering talents like Amenah, but it is still not the same as training on real snow and Maya tries to solve that issue by travelling to areas with ample snow during her vacations, so she can get the best of both worlds.
“Unfortunately, the sport is not very well-known here and that is partly due to a lack of snow, for obvious reasons. Locations for training are limited. Facilities like Ski Dubai have been absolutely essential in Amenah’s training but we also look for training opportunities outside the country,” said Maya.
Being a title holder at the age of 10 brings a fair share of pressure with it, and Amenah credited her family’s unfaltering guidance and support for keeping her grounded and helping her manage her school and athletic endeavours.
“I have never had issues managing my school with snowboarding. I have a schedule and my mother helps me stick to it. Even my friends understand this and make sure they don’t plan any activities without me. So, I have a good balance of everything in my life,” said Amenah.
Amenah is currently making use of the snow in Jahorina, Bosnia where she will be training for the next three weeks and in January, the 10-year-old snowboarder is heading to the Swiss alps to further hone her slopestyle skills.
Kenya’s Marius Kipserem and Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh stormed the finish line to secure victories in the first-ever ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon this morning.
The event was attended by more than 10,000 professional and novice runners who took part in the inaugural ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon across four race categories – 42k, 10k, 5k and 2.5k – and were able to take in the capital’s iconic landmarks including Emirates Heritage Village and Qasr Al Hosn.
In a special awards ceremony held outside the headquarters of the marathon’s title sponsor, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), the event’s trophies were presented to first, second and third place male and female finishers in the 42k, 10k and wheelchair races. All participants who took part also received a congratulatory medal.
Beating his personal best, 2016 Rotterdam Marathon winner Marius Kipserem from Kenya crossed the finish line in a time of 2:04:04, securing his place in history as the first male winner of the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon and recording the 12th best marathon time in the world. He was followed 12 seconds later by fellow Kenyan and half-marathon record holder Abraham Kiptum who also beat his personal best with a time of 2:04:16. The marathon’s third place award went to Ethiopia’s Dejena Gonfa who secured a time of 2:07:06.
Commenting after his win, Kipserem said: “I feel very good and happy because I ran my personal best today. The route was perfect and it was great weather.”
In-form long-distance runner Ababel Yeshaneh from Ethiopia secured the first elite female victory at the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon, storming the line with a time of 2:20:16. Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba crossed in second place with a time of 2:20:54, the best performance by an Asian female athlete in 2018. Chumba was followed over the finish line by Ethiopian runner Gelete Burka with a time of 2:24:07.
Ababel Yeshaneh expressed her delight in winning the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon: “I’m pleased with my result and personal best performance. It’s my first time in Abu Dhabi and I was very happy with the route of the marathon.”
Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba commented: “I am proud and I ran a good time for second place. It was a competitive race and it is my first time in Abu Dhabi. Everyone is very friendly and I am so happy to be here.”
Richard Kimunyan and Abeba Semanew successfully completed the male and female 10k race respectively with a time of 28:21 and 32:40, followed by second and third place male and female finishers, Maxwell Rotich, Emily Kipchumba, Samir Jouaher and Anne-Mari Hyrylainen.
The elite wheelchair category was won by Husain Al Mazam followed by Rashed Al Dhaheri, both from the UAE, and the 10k by Abdollah Fard, Abdulla Al Ghaferi and Theban Al Mheiri.
Andrea Trabuio, Race Director, said: “The results of ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon exceeded expectations, both in terms of the number of runners and the amazing records achieved today.”
He added: “We are very optimistic about the next edition of the marathon. After this successful edition, we can absolutely say that we now have one of the most competitive marathons in the world.”
Yeshaneh and Chumba joined Kipserem and Kiptum in securing the best performances of their careers to date.
For more information, visit: www.adnocabudhabimarathon.com
For an insight into what separates sporting greats from mere mortals, Sir Mo Farah’s reaction to Eliud Kipchoge’s crushing marathon record acts as exemplar.
At September’s Berlin race, the Kenyan didn’t just set a new benchmark – he charged into another sporting sphere. The 34-year-old finished in an unfathomable 2 hours, one minute and 39 seconds, taking nearly 1:20 off the previous best.
It was the largest single improvement in more than 50 years. Plus, a 10th win in 11 attempts by him over the fabled 26.2-mile (42.2 kilometres) distance.
Remarkably, there was precious sign of strain on Kipchoge’s beaming face as he sprinted through the Brandenburg Gate and into immortality.
Farah is only at the start of a journey to master the marathon in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Witnessing an opponent perform in such omnipotent manner would shatter the dreams of most aspirants.
The Somalia-born, Great Britain icon, however, is utterly undaunted. That’s what four Games golds across 5,000 and 10,000 metres will do for your belief.
Speaking to Sport360 at a Dubai Fitness Challenge event on The Palm, the 35-year-old revealed a firm insistence that “anything is possible”.
He says: “Seeing that time, it was just like… A lot of people ask if it is possible to run a world record?
“He didn’t just run a world record, he took it apart. And the way he took it apart was ridiculous.
“I was watching it in our training camp in Arizona with my coach [Gary Lough], and my training partners. I was going ‘no, let him get through 30k’. Then he went through 35k [at the record pace] and continued on, as the pace markers dropped out at halfway.
“It was really impressive. Obviously, if he can do that, anything is possible.”
Farah went from fleeing Mogadishu as an infant, to living as a refugee in Djibouti and finally settling in London aged eight.
A major breakthrough would come with 10,000m silver and 5,000m gold at the 2011 World Athletics Championships.
A year later, his name would go down in lore thanks to an Olympic double. The highlight came with 10,000m success on ‘Super Saturday’ in front of an exhilarated London crowd.
He would double up four years later in Rio and – temporarily, at least – exit the track shortly after another gold and silver at the 2017 Worlds.
An unmatched tactical brain and relentless final kick separates him out as a phenomenal talent. Even then, does Kipchoge’s dominance influence Farah’s thoughts about taking on the marathon at next autumn’s World Championships?
“No,” he replies. “Tactically, I am stronger than anyone else and I know there is no one else out there who can tactically be as good as me.
“Obviously, the more I do it, and more experience I can have now, and just working it out, I can put myself in a good position.”
Last month at a sodden Chicago, a maiden marathon victory was claimed from the third time of asking. This new European record of 2:05.11 provided a valuable boost of confidence.
April’s London Marathon is next up. What is a realistic target after that at the Worlds, if he chooses to remain committed to the longer distance?
Farah replies: “For me, I’ve run low 2:05. I know myself I could have done a low 2:04.
“I don’t know how much lower I could have gone. That’s my honest opinion. But at the same time, it is different in a championship race. There are no pacers, there is nothing – just three Kenyans, three Ethiopians etc.
“You have to be smart and work it out.”
Another icon of London 2012 is attempting to undergo a starker transition. Jamaica’ eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt is undertaking a global tour, aged 32, to parlay his sprint achievements into a professional football career.
After training with the likes of Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, he would score twice in an October friendly for Australia’s Central Coast Mariners. No agreement about permanent terms was reached, however, at the end of this lengthy trial.
What has Farah made of his friend’s attempted change of direction?
He replies: “Usain is someone I look up to. It is great to see that side of him. Really wanting to do something new, something he wants to enjoy.
“I know there is a lot of doubts and people who say: ‘you can run, but you can’t play football.’
“But he can play football. I hope he just does what he does and is himself. I’ve played with him in Soccer Aid. He was alright, I wasn’t marking him.”
Farah himself boasts an affinity for football. 2018/19 marks his first as an Arsenal season-ticket holder.
Unai Emery’s seamless succession from Arsene Wenger has created “an amazing time”. It is just a shame, then, that Farah has barely been around to witness it.
He says: “It is an amazing time, but my wife has been to more games than I have. I’ve been away training. I’m a bit gutted, in a way.
“I went back for the Leicester game and I was like ‘oh my days’ when we went 1-0 down. I was like, is it me who brought the bad luck?”
Farah has come from nothing to achieve the spectacular. It is this enlivening message he wished to convey when encouraging runners after a few laps of Palm Jumeirah Fitness Village.
He says: “You are always going to have doubts, no matter what.
“My wife didn’t believe she could do it [when she started running]. She started with five kilometres and is now on half marathons.
“It is about being able to connect as families, letting kids enjoy it and see what you do.”
A dazzling Closing Carnival will mark the end of another successful Dubai Fitness Challenge this weekend. The two-day event will be held at the city’s most spectacular venues, Burj Park and Dubai Opera in Downtown Dubai.
Carnival goers of all ages and fitness abilities will enjoy a huge range of exciting activities. For more information, visit www.dubaifitnesschallenge.com.