On a November morning last year, Safiya Al Sayegh found herself driving back to Dubai after attending an awards ceremony at Abu Dhabi. A professional rider who had already represented the UAE at the World Cycling Championships, the 22-year-old was content with her career progression. However, her journey took an unexpected turn when she received a call from the president of the UAE Cycling Federation, informing her that she had qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

This historic achievement led to emotional moments for Safiya and her family, as tears of joy were shed in celebration. As the first Emirati female cyclist to qualify for the Olympics, Safiya's accomplishment marked a significant milestone.

Additionally, Safiya recently graduated in graphic designing from the University of Dubai, showcasing her dedication to both academics and sports. In an exclusive interview with the City Times, she discussed the importance of family support and maintaining a balance between her cycling career and studies.

Coming from a family with a sporting background, Safiya expressed gratitude for her father's support, explaining how sports had positively impacted her academic performance. Recognizing the influence she holds as a trailblazer for young girls in the country, she highlighted the responsibility she bears to inspire and empower others.

Looking ahead to the challenging 158-km road race at the Paris Games, Safiya emphasized her goal to complete the race and represent the UAE at the highest level of competition. She acknowledged her mother's pivotal role in advocating for her career as a professional athlete, echoing the sentiments of other young Emirati sportswomen whose mothers have been instrumental in nurturing their sporting ambitions.

Safiyah also shared the influence of athletes such as Michael Phelps, Yousuf Mirza, and Marta Bastianelli, underscoring the significance of dedication, resilience, and the ability to transcend barriers in pursuit of athletic excellence.