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Girls & Women

Zahra Lari is determined to be the 1st person from her country at the Winter Olympics

Zahra Lari could be both the first person from her country to compete in the Winter Olympics and the first to wear a hijab in figure skating at the Winter Olympics in 2018.

She dreamed of ice skating professionally since she was 11-years-old, after seeing the Disney movie Ice Princess. Now Zahra is living her dream.

Zahra is a 21-year-old figure skater from the United Arab Emirates who attends Abu Dhabi University and spends between four and six hours training a day in addition to her studies.

In a country with less than 5 inches (120 mm) of rainfall per year on the coastline, Zahra decided to pursue an unusually icy sport. Nobody in the United Arab Emirates has ever competed in the Winter Olympics, but this doesn’t stop her from training like a champion in order to compete in competitive figure skating. Zahra got the nickname “Ice Princess” which she doesn’t mind. The name reminds her of her favorite inspirational film and the obstacles she’s overcome to continue pursuing her passion. She is proof that no matter where you’re born or who you are, you can pursue your dream and succeed.

“In ice skating, you fall a lot – so the most challenging thing is not giving up.” - Zahra Lari

Zahra mentions in this video that her mother always supported her and it took a little extra convincing for her dad to cheer her on. However, once he saw her ability, skill and pure passion for skating he fully backed her up.

The hijab she wears has been less of an issue than you might think. It’s never gotten in the way of her skating and her friends (Muslim and non-Muslim) support her beliefs and want her to achieve her dream.

Check out her inspirational words and advice to other young girls at 2:10 in the video above. This video and interview was filmed three years ago, and Zahra’s "maybe" turned to a fierce determination that she’ll be there.

She aims to compete in two years in South Korea where the next Winter Olympics will be held and even if she doesn't make it, she will continue to skate and be a role model for girls who face challenges because of their gender. 

While she may be humble about her aspirations, let’s cheer Zahra onto a gold medal at the next Winter Olympics!