Keep your focus and savor the beautiful moment, these were the words of guidance offered by an Olympic silver medalist and a Paralympian to Safiya Al Sayegh, the Emirati cyclist who has secured a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics. Al Sayegh, 22, etched her name in history last year by becoming the first Emirati female cyclist to qualify for an Olympic Games. The young talent is leaving no stone unturned in her quest to deliver a stellar performance at the prestigious event commencing on July 26 in Paris. The 158-km long women’s road race in France will challenge the skills and stamina of Al Sayegh, who has exerted immense effort to join the ranks of the world’s top female cyclists.

However, Jessica Smith, a former Australian parathlete who achieved glory for her country in swimming, and Dan Norton, the British rugby star who clinched a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Games, emphasized that the Olympics transcends mere pursuit of medals. Smith, an Olympian representing Australia at the 2004 Athens Olympics, reminisced about the enduring memories that the Games create for athletes. She described it as a unique experience, where she had the opportunity to interact with numerous remarkable athletes and immerse herself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Games Village. Smith underscored the importance of maintaining focus amidst the flurry of activities surrounding the Olympics, emphasizing the need to absorb the overall experience, especially when competing in a splendid location like Paris.

Norton, renowned for his accomplishments in the sevens format of rugby, fondly recalled his first Olympics in Rio, where he crossed paths with iconic figures such as Usain Bolt, Serena and Venus Williams. According to Norton, the Olympics is akin to a circus, encompassing athletes of diverse shapes and sizes, from towering 6-foot-eight basketball players to petite gymnasts. He spoke of the electrifying atmosphere that permeated the entire venue and regarded winning the silver medal in Rio 2016 as the pinnacle of his athletic career, attributing it to meticulous preparation and an unparalleled experience.

Al Sayegh, who also made history as the first Emirati female cyclist to be selected by a professional team (UAE Team ADQ), expressed immense pride in representing the UAE at the world’s foremost sporting spectacle. She eagerly anticipated the longest race of her career in Paris and considered it an incredible honor to vie for victory on behalf of her country.