On a November morning in the previous year, Safiya Al Sayegh was taken by surprise while driving back to Dubai from an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi. Having already represented the UAE at the World Cycling Championships, the 22-year-old was satisfied with the progress of her career as a professional rider. The president of the UAE Cycling Federation called her during her journey to inform her that she had qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, leading to an emotional moment shared with her family.

Safiya, the first Emirati female cyclist to qualify for the Olympics, rides for UAE Team ADQ and recently completed her graphic design degree at the University of Dubai. In an exclusive interview with the City Times, she discussed the importance of family support in empowering young Emirati sportswomen and managing her cycling career alongside her studies.

Safiya acknowledged her upbringing in a sports-oriented family and the positive influence of her father, a former professional footballer, who initially expressed concerns about her academic performance. However, she proved that sports can enhance focus and academic achievement, emphasizing the dual benefits of sports in her life.

As a pioneer for young girls in the country, Safiya recognizes the responsibility of being a trendsetter, inspiring more girls to pursue their passions and dreams. Despite personal doubts at times, she emphasizes the importance of self-motivation and belief in one's abilities, encouraging women to overcome self-criticism and pursue their aspirations.

Regarding the upcoming 158-km road race at the Paris Games, Safiya expressed her determination to complete the challenging event, recognizing the competition but aiming to represent the UAE admirably.

Safiya credited her mother for playing a pivotal role in her career and highlighted the increasing support from forward-thinking mothers in the country, which has contributed to the rise of professional female athletes. She emphasized the significance of family support in overcoming setbacks and achieving aspirations.

Inspired by renowned athletes like Michael Phelps, Yousuf Mirza, and Marta Bastianelli, Safiya has learned valuable lessons in commitment, perseverance, and balancing professional achievements with personal life. Their stories have fueled her ambitions and provided inspiration for her journey as a professional cyclist.