Saudi Arabia’s youngest gymnast vows that she ‘will win Olympic gold’ one day

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Saudi Arabia's youngest gymnast Aya Shata. (AN photo)
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Saudi Arabia's youngest gymnast Aya Shata. (AN photo)
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Saudi Arabia's youngest gymnast Aya Shata. (AN photo)
Updated 17 March 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s youngest gymnast vows that she ‘will win Olympic gold’ one day

JEDDAH: When Aya Shata was 5, she told her mother she would grow up to become an Olympic champion.
Now, two years later, Saudi Arabia’s youngest gymnast is on her way to realizing her dream. And her mother, Dr. Dania Bogari, said she “will go to the ends of the earth to make that happen.”
Shata was born and raised in Jeddah and attends Jeddah Knowledge School.
The young gymnast started practicing gymnastics by herself at the age of 2, and would enrol in camps whenever she traveled.
Shata is enthusiastic about other sports, too, and has taken classes in ballet, football and basketball. She has an orange belt in karate.
Aya has several certificates from the Dynamic Code Center sports club in Jeddah, which has congratulated her on her gymnastic achievements.
Her mother said that Aya’s older brother Alwaleed had been her inspiration. “They are three years apart, and he showed her the world of sports when she first opened her eyes,” said Bogari.
“I want to go to the Olympics when I grow up, win gold medals and represent Saudi Arabia,” the young gymnast told Arab News.
She took part in many gymnastic competitions, including Spartan Arabia in January 2017.
“Even when Aya was 2, I noticed that she was different from other children,” her mother said. “She was very determined. She was passionate about gymnastics. Other kids were not — they used to cry. I felt like their mothers were pushing them into it.
“Aya is different, she loves to go and actually asks me to take her to gymnastics,” she said.
Bogari said her daughter’s determination made gender roles and age limitations meaningless.
“She was the only girl in the soccer team. It was weird for the boys, but she did well. Even in basketball, she was the youngest and the coaches wanted to put her in the younger group, but she proved she can play with the older children.”
The young gymnast cares deeply about the environment and has created a scrapbook that highlights types of pollution and their risks.
“Aside from sports, Aya is very creative,” her mother said.
Bogari urged Saudi schools to foster talent and pointed to the UAE’s “Youth Ambassador Program” as an example of talented young people being trained as future national representatives.
“Aya is so proud to be Saudi — she loves her country, and wants to represent it and show that anything others can do, we can, too.
“I hope Aya finds all the support she needs to pursue her dream as a Saudi Olympic champion. As Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: ‘The success of the nation depends on the youth.”
Meanwhile, the young gymnast’s advice to anyone who wants to succeed is to “dream big and practice more to fulfil your talent.”


Saudi Arabia executes 37 for terror links

Updated 23 April 2019
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Saudi Arabia executes 37 for terror links

RIYADH: Thirty-seven Saudis have been executed for links with terrorism, the Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday.

The executions were carried out in Riyadh, Makkah, Madinah, the Eastern Province, Qassim and Asir, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The 37 had created terror cells to “corrupt and disrupt security, spread chaos and provoke sectarian strife, as well as damage peace and social security,” the ministry said.

The ministry added that they had planned to bomb security headquarters and kill security personnel.