May 24, 2024
  • Safiya Alsayegh, who will be the first Emirati female cyclist to compete at the Olympics, looked ahead to the spectacle during a panel discussion in Dubai
  • The event was hosted by On Location, official hospitality provider of this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics, which take place in Paris
  • Two-time Olympian, Dan Norton, and Paralympian Jessica Smith also joined the panel at the Capital Club in DIFC

May 23, 2024 – Dubai, UAE: Safiya Alsayegh will make history this summer by becoming the first female Emirati cyclist to compete at the Olympics, and the UAE Team ADQ rider is relishing the opportunity to rub shoulders with athletes from across the globe during the event, which begins on July 26 in Paris.

Alsayegh was a guest at a panel discussion in Dubai which was hosted by On Location, the official hospitality provider of the Olympics and Paralympics 2024, where she was joined on stage by Jessica Smith, a member of the Australia swimming team at the Paralympics in 2004, and Dan Norton, who represented Great Britain at the 2016 and 2020 events in Rugby 7s.

In France, Safiya will compete in the longest race of her career – 158 km – while trailblazing an Olympic dream for the UAE which, at one point, seemed unrealistic.

“Eight years ago, it didn’t look that optimistic to be in the Olympics right now,” said Safiya, who graduated from the University of Dubai with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design earlier this week.

“The past eight years have gone so fast, with quite a lot of stress through balancing my studies and the sport. To see progress when you’re so busy and cannot fully commit to both is great. Graduating with honors from university was super. I just felt everything, and I could actually take it in.”

Looking ahead to Paris 2024, Safiya said: “A victory would be to complete the race, because it’s going to be a very tough mission, but I get up every day with that goal in my head.

“I’m looking forward to the Olympic Village, and the experience of being in Paris to network and meet other athletes.”

Elsewhere during the discussion, which took place at Capital Club in DIFC, Smith spoke about the significance of community and national support for athletes, particularly those competing at the highest level.

“We really need to realise the value that our athletes give to our nations, from the grassroots level all the way through to when they’re performing internationally, particularly at a Paralympic or Olympic Games. The stakes are different. You are carrying your nation behind you.”

The 2004 Paralympian also explained how events such as the Olympics give the world an opportunity to see how each nation addresses issues around disability.

She said: “More and more elite athletes with a disability are having a light shone on them. That has created so many more pathways for young children with a disability to see themselves represented, to see themselves reflected in a sport they enjoy at grassroots level.”

Norton, meanwhile, reflected on the first of his Olympic appearances in 2016, saying: “It was my first ever Games, so we were rubbing shoulders with sporting legends like Usain Bolt, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.”

To learn more about On Location’s exclusive hospitality experiences, visit olympics.onlocationexp.com/paris2024/

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