On a November morning last year, Safiya Al Sayegh was driving back to Dubai after attending an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi, not anticipating any surprises. Despite already representing the UAE at the World Cycling Championships, the 22-year-old was content with her progress as a professional rider. While still behind the wheel, she received a call from the president of the UAE Cycling Federation, informing her that she had qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games (July 26-August 11).

Safiya, the first Emirati female cyclist to qualify for the Olympics, shared her emotional reaction to the news, noting the tears of joy shed with her family. She also reflected on the support of her father, a former professional footballer, and the impact of balancing sports and academics on her life.

In an exclusive interview, Safiya expressed her hope to inspire more young Emirati girls to pursue their passions, emphasizing the importance of self-belief and determination. Despite acknowledging the challenges of the upcoming 158-km road race in Paris, she remains focused on representing the UAE to the best of her ability.

Furthermore, she highlighted the instrumental role of her mother in her career, underscoring the increasing support for female athletes from forward-thinking mothers in the country. Safiya also drew inspiration from renowned athletes such as Michael Phelps, Yousuf Mirza, and Marta Bastianelli, whose achievements have fueled her own aspirations.