Young Saudi gymnast wins 1st place at inaugural GCC competition

RIYADH: Young Saudi gymnast Elena Habhab bagged first place at the inaugural GCC Grand Series Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship, staged in the UAE.

The event, held at Al Nasr Sports Hall in Dubai on Nov. 26 and 27, involved its female participants moving gracefully to music while holding props such as ribbons, or a ball.

More than 300 gymnasts from five Gulf Cooperation Council nations — the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia — took part and were judged on agility and the difficulty of movements.

Six-year-old Habhab, who competed in the baby junior category, told Arab News: “I was overjoyed to win first place in the Gulf’s first international competition. I wanted to take part and proudly carry the flag of my nation.”

During the summer, the youngster trained for eight hours each day, and when school started, four hours. She also had private ballet lessons.

She won seven medals in her first year of competition in Moscow, where she receives professional training, and she hopes to participate in similar contests in Saudi Arabia.

Habhab said: “I hope that these competitions will take place in Saudi Arabia and that I will have the opportunity to compete for Saudi Arabia at the Olympics.”

Her mother, Rima Wannous, said: “We are Elena’s family, her biggest supporters and fans, and we are ready to give her everything we have so that she can continue her dream of reaching the Olympics.

“As a mother, I was very nervous before the tournament and could not sleep, but when the result was announced, I felt very happy and proud.

“Of course, my six-year-old daughter was able to prove herself and achieve the result that she has worked so hard for, and now she has eight medals.”

Next week, Habhab will participate in Dubai in an international tournament, before competing in an open club event in Moscow at the end of December, and then an international tournament in India in January.