Safiya Al Sayegh makes history as first UAE female cyclist to qualify for Olympics
UAE cyclist Safiya Al Sayegh said she was “dreaming” after securing a historic qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
The 22-year-old is the first Emirati woman, and just the second rider from the country, to qualify for the road race at an Olympic Games, following in the footsteps of her compatriot Yousif Mirza.
Having accumulated the necessary points to guarantee her spot in Paris, Al Sayegh gets to write a new chapter in her book of historic achievements, which includes being the UAE’s first professional female cyclist, and the first to sign a contract with a women’s UCI World Team.
The road races at the 2024 Olympics will feature parity in field size between the men’s and women’s events for the first time, and Al Sayegh will be one of the 90 women lining up for the 158km trek, which will start and end at Paris’ Trocadero.
“Still can’t come to believe this, I think it will take some time, but all I know is that I’m over the clouds,” wrote Al Sayegh on Instagram. “Elhamdolillah. Time to work even harder.”
Last month, Al Sayegh made her World Tour debut with UAE Team ADQ, joining the squad at the Tour of Chongming Island in China. That came on the heels of a strong showing at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, where she placed ninth in the individual time trial and 11th in the road race.
As she continues to blaze a trail for Emirati women in cycling, Al Sayegh cannot wait to fly the flag for her nation in Paris next year, which she describes as a “goal come true”.
“Am I dreaming? I’m going to be an Olympian?!? And the very first Emirati female cyclist?!?” the UAE national champion wrote in an Instagram post.
“This week my childhood dream, that had turned into a long-term goal became true. I made it to qualifying to the Olympics. Goals come true. It would’ve been a dream if I just sat and wished for it, but it’s a goal come true because there’s blood, sweat, pain, enjoyment, struggles, memories, tears, up to this historical and emotional achievement.
“I can’t be thankful enough towards all the stakeholders and supporters that are behind this achievement. Reaching this goal wasn’t easy, but the people beside me guided me into paving the journey up to this incredible milestone. And with all my strength I say, go for those dreams of yours, nothing is impossible.”