UAE ice skating teen sets her sights on 2018 Winter Olympics

The talented 14-year-old who ‘loves everything about ice skating’ spends six hours a day, six days a week training to achieve her goal of making it to the games in Pyeongchang four years later.
“I just love everything about ice skating, from the clothes to the music and routines and my dream is to make it to the next Winter Olympics in South Korea,” says 14-year-old Amira Abdul Moati.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
“I just love everything about ice skating, from the clothes to the music and routines and my dream is to make it to the next Winter Olympics in South Korea,” says 14-year-old Amira Abdul Moati. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DUBAI// A teenager who as a three-year-old was inspired to take to the ice after watching her mum perform on two blades has set her sights on taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Amira Abdul Moati is so determined to be a professional ice skater she trains for six hours a day, six days a week in the hope of making the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

But in the meantime, the 14-year-old is focusing her attention on the UAE Open Figure Skating Championships in Dubai on May 16 and 17.

“I’ve been training specially for this event and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Amira, whose mother is Russian and father Egyptian.

“I just love everything about ice skating, from the clothes to the music and routines and my dream is to make it to the next Winter Olympics in South Korea.”

She will be taking part in the platinum category, for the most accomplished skaters, and will perform three routines over the course of the championship weekend.

Amira took her first steps on ice after accompanying her mother, Larissa Zaplatinskaia, to an ice rink.

“I wanted to go on the ice with her so she got me some skates,” Amira said. “I just copied my mum and found it easy to skate.”

At the age of five she moved to Chelabinski near the Ural mountains in Russia, near her mother’s parents to train with a skating coach.

“They would visit me to check up on me and my mum would visit regularly from Dubai,” Amira said. “I was in Russia for about five years and then when I was about 10 I moved to Dubai to live with my mum.”

A typical day for Amira begins at 6am when she goes to the gym for 90 minutes, followed by two to three hours of training on the ice. After that it is time for homework and then another short gym session with her mother in the evening before bedtime.

Despite her young age, Amira already has experience of competing in international competitions in Bulgaria, Russia and Austria as well as the past four UAE open championships.

She is aiming to represent Egypt at the 2018 games because of her dual nationality, although there are hurdles that need to be overcome before that can happen.

“Egypt is not a member of the International Skating Union, which means we have to set one up there before she has a chance of competing,” said Mrs Zaplatinskaia, the founder of Ice Skating Stars Dubai Ice Skating Academy.

That in itself is a three-year process, but she is hopeful of success.

“I don’t have a background in ice skating but my daughter has been skating since the age of three,” she said.

Amira is trained by her mother, who follows the Russian training curriculum.

“Amira’s never been afraid of the ice and after her first experience has made really good progress. She told me she wanted to become a professional ice skater and I’m supporting her.”

Although ice skating is a minority sport in the UAE there are seven clubs located across the country.

“Watching someone ice skate live is completely different to watching it on TV,” said Mr Zaplatinskaia. “There is the energy from the crowd that you see and then there is the amazing speed at which the skaters perform their routines.

“It’s really amazing to see how fast they move and watching on TV doesn’t really show that.

“One of the things we want to do is encourage more people to attend the UAE open championships because that will hopefully get more people interested in the sport.”

The competition is for ages 5 to 45. The UAE Open Figure Skating Championships take place at the Al Nasr Leisureland Ice rink in Dubai on May 16 and 17.

Entrance to the event is open to the public and free.

nhanif@thenational.ae

Published: May 5, 2014 04:00 AM

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