Plenty of athletes around the world are inspiring others with their feats of strength and endurance, but Abu Dhabi is home to its own sports personalities that are proving they have what it takes to make it on the global stage while motivating people in the community to lead a more active lifestyle.
Need some inspiration to get up, get out and live a healthier, happier life?
Look no further than on our own shores where a group of sportsmen and women across a range of disciplines are leading the way and showing us all what can be achieved with the right focus and dedication.
Make or break
Australian-born Eva Clarke has made headlines on numerous occasions since moving to the UAE in 2012.
The ex-Australian army fitness officer founded her own military-style fitness company, HUA Fitness, in the capital to help individuals reach their goals.
Not only that, Eva eats world records for breakfast – last year alone, she smashed five current Guinness World Records in one day for the most pull-ups, burpees and chest-to floor burpees in one minute, before beating the current figures for the most chest-to-floor burpees completed in 12-hour and 24-hour periods, taking her number of records to a whopping 15.
Eva’s record-breaking journey started when she took on the challenge of performing the most knuckle push-ups in 24 hours, completing an incredible 9,241 repetitions in Abu Dhabi in February 2014.
But it’s not all about personal glory for the Aussie expat, who has simultaneously raised money for charities including Task Brasil, an organisation that helps improve the lives of street children in Brazil.
Through her achievements, Eva is constantly striving to inspire others to take more of an interest in fitness and self-care through her fitness classes in the capital and across the UAE to help get people in shape and stay on track with their fitness goals.
To find out more about Eva and her classes, visit: facebook.com/huafit
Best foot forward
It’s easy to look at active people and assume that they’ve always been in great shape, but everyone has to start somewhere.
For Dr Khalid Al Suwaidi, being fit and healthy was just a dream as the formerly obese Emirati struggled to achieve his fitness goals and maintain a healthier and more active lifestyle. But as the saying goes, ‘If there’s a will, there’s a way’.
After losing 57kg, the Emirati took on the challenge of running the 327km route between Abu Dhabi and Fujairah to raise awareness for cancer in February 2018.
Taking things up a notch, on 1st February this year, Dr Khalid will take on the gruelling task of completing an ultramarathon by attempting to run from Abu Dhabi to Mecca, racking up an incredible distance of 2,000km in the process – that’s over 360 laps of Yas Marina Circuit.
Dr Khalid is undertaking the sporting challenge, which is expected to take up to 38 days to complete, in a bid to inspire others to take action with their health and get into shape as well as celebrating the relationship between the UAE and neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
To stay on track with Dr Khalid’s progress, follow @khaledjalsuwaidi on Instagram.
Queen of the ice
Abu Dhabi’s desert landscape is probably the last place you’d expect to find an up-and coming figure skating star – but that’s exactly who you’ll find here.
The UAE’s Zahra Lari became the first Emirati to represent the country in figure skating internationally back in 2011, and has since become one of the nation’s most inspirational young female athletes.
Breaking the mould, challenging stereotypes and helping to spread tolerance, Zahra was also the first female figure skater to wear a hijab while competing and was the driving force behind the International Skating Union’s decision to allow headscarves to be worn on the international stage.
The 23-year-old athlete then went on to help design the Nike Pro Hijab and currently represents the brand’s campaign globally, having appeared in a Nike advertisement that featured female Muslim athletes in 2017.
Learning her trade at Zayed Sports City, Zahra is the epitome of hard work and grit, training early every morning until 7.30am before going to school and then returning to the rink after her studies.
With the dream of competing at the Winter Olympics in the future, Zahra carries the hopes of the UAE on her shoulders and will be aiming to book her place at the 2022 games in Beijing. To follow Zahra’s progress, follow @zahralari on Instagram.
Right on track
There’s no denying that cycling is on the rise in the UAE.
The newly launched UAE Tour – formally the Abu Dhabi Tour – has been awarded UCI status (joining the highest level of professional cycling) and the nation’s own UAE Team Emirates continues to make waves internationally, with two stage wins at the Tour de France 2018 under its belt.
Embodying the UAE’s growth in the sport, UAE Team Emirates rider Yousif Mirza is at the forefront of the nation’s push towards new heights in cycling.
The 30-year-old all-rounder is the first Emirati to ride for a UCI World Tour team and rose to prominence when he won a silver medal in the road race at the 2015 Asian Cycling Championships, a feat that qualified him for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Last year, representing the UAE at the 2018 Asian Cycling Championships in Nilai, Malaysia, Yousif saw off stiff competition from across the continent to win two gold medals after finishing first in the Time Trial and Individual Road Race.
Back on track again this year, Yousif is preparing to saddle up with UAE Team Emirates for the UCI World Tour, which will include the inaugural UCI UAE Tour from 24th February to 2nd March.
To stay tuned with Yousif’s progress, visit: facebook.com/yousifmirza88
One to watch
You may not have heard the name Amna Al Qubaisi yet, but we reckon it’s only a matter of time before she becomes a household name.
The 18-year-old is the first ever female Emirati racing driver and also became the first woman from the Middle East to take part in a motorsport test programme for Formula E at the 2018 Ad Diriyah ePrix in Saudi Arabia.
Starting out in the driving seat at 14, Amna showcased her potential from the get-go, becoming the first female from the region to participate at the Rotax Max Challenge World Finals in 2014.
This year, Amna will compete in the inaugural W Series, a newly launched single driver championship for women. To follow her career on track, follow @amnalqubaisi_official on Instagram.
WORDS Colin Armstrong