Amira Abdul Moati is as bright and exuberant as you would expect a 14-year-old to be. She loves ice creams and waltzing across an ice rink. She also has a way with numbers that has seen her completing Grades nine and 10 in maths even while studying in Grade eight. But for now, the UAE’s best junior figure skater is focused on the upcoming Desert Open Figure Skating Championship to be held at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi this Friday and Saturday.
“I aim to perform all three programmes without any mistakes, including double axel,” she told XPRESS ahead of the event.
“There will be two ISU (International Skating Union) programmes, short programme (MULAN) and free programme (Walking in Paris). The short programme has seven compulsory elements, including three jumping elements, three spins, and one step sequence. Free program has 11 compulsory elements, seven jumping elements, three spins, and one step sequence. To perform all elements spotlessly is not an easy task and this is my main objective.”
Amira recently participated in Skate Austria 2014 and what she saw inspired her enough to plan a visit to Italy for training.
“The Helmut Zelbt Memorial was held last month. It was a tremendous experience in spectacular Vienna featuring the strongest figure skaters in Europe with whom I competed in the category ‘Ladies-Junior’. I did pretty well, considering my age and experience. I saw the strongest European athletes and it inspired me. Italian girls demonstrated outstanding gliding technique and I want to achieve the same. Therefore, one of the plans is to go to Italy for training during summer holidays,” she said.
The figure-skating prodigy took to the sport in Abu Dhabi when she was three and a half years old. Thereafter she and her mother Larissa Zaplatinskaia shifted to Dubai where she practised for a year before she went off to Russia. After training in a Russian Olympic club for five years, Amira came back to Dubai and decided to stay with her family. To support Amira’s passion, Larissa established Dubai ice figure skating academy (in 2012).
“Training in Russia was very beneficial. First, it taught me discipline and hard work. It gave excellent physical shape, advanced technical skills, choreography, feel of the music, the rhythm and taught me the ability to create the programme independently. It taught me to stay focused and calculate points during performance and quickly evaluate how and where you can add extra elements in the course of the program to gain extra points, if some points were lost on the errors or failures,” she said.
“Presently, I train in the UAE, four to five days in a week in Dubai and two days in Abu Dhabi. Currently, Abu Dhabi has the strongest coach in the UAE in Zsolt Kerekes. For ground training, I have my mom, who provides me two hours of training every day. I have to thank the Al Nasr Leisureland management and Noemi Bedo, the manager of Abu Dhabi Ice Rink and head of Abu Dhabi ice skating team. My achievements are a collective work of many people, who give me great support and are dedicated, who believe in me,” Amira added.
The 14-year-old studies at the K12 American Online Academy, a school which gives her flexibility to attend classes when she is free from trainings and competitions and not miss any class or any lesson. But even then, it is not easy to balance sport and studies
“It is not easy, but if there is a will there is a way. You have to discipline yourself, stay focused, be dedicated and love what you do. Apart from school programme and four hours training every day, I am trying to study five languages – English, Russian, Arabic, French and Spanish. But you have to sacrifice your social life and dedicate all your free time to sport if you want to be a professional athlete,” she said.
Her goals are simple in this regard. “My short-term goal is to learn triple jumps. The long-term goal is to put the UAE on the international map of figure skating,” she said.