Latest Sports News > CANAZEI, Italy: From the sand dunes of the Rub al Khali desert to the snow-capped peaks of the Dolomites in northern Italy, Emirati teen Zahra Lari made figure skating history this week.
The 17-year-old not only became the first figure skater from the Gulf to compete in an international competition but the first to do so wearing the hijab, an Islamic headscarf.
“In my country women don’t do much sport and even less figure skating,” the quietly-spoken teenager told AFP after competing alongside skaters from 50 countries in the European Cup.
A practising Muslim, her black headscarf and sober costume, stood out among the flashy orange tutus and fluorescent pink tights.
“I skate with the hijab, my costume is in line with Islamic tradition,” she explained.
“The other girls are very nice to me. I think they accept me very well. I haven’t had any problems, people are open. It’s not a question of an exhibition, but of sport and my father is in agreement.”
Lari’s American-born mother Roquiya Cochran admitted that it had taken some time to convince her husband to let their daughter compete.
“I had to convince him. In the beginning he saw it as his daughter dancing in front of a male audience
“But he came along to watch, he saw how beautiful she was on the ice, and he loves her, he wants her to be happy. She’s covered, she hasn’t done anything anti-Islamic.”
The European Cup in Canazei does not have the stature of the ISU Grand Prix events and Lari did not compete at the world junior championships last February, but she nevertheless finished in the top 15. (AFP)