22-year-old Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari is her country’s first to go international

1010 WINS-Athletes from the United Arab Emirates have successfully competed in a total of eight Summer Olympic Games since the country's National Olympic Committee was formed in 1979, winning their first medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece. Officially recognized by the IOC in 1980, athletes from the Persian Gulf country of just over nine and a half million people have never appeared in the Winter Games.

But one determined woman plans to relegate that fact to the nation's history books — meet Zahra Lari, the UAE's very first figure skater to compete on the world stage!

Although the 22-year-old may not have qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea this year, she did become the first woman ever to compete internationally wearing a hijab — albeit after some convincing.

According to the IOC rules regarding costumes, figure skaters are more-or-less free to choose their own wardrobe, with a few obvious restrictions on perceived nudity. Females may don dresses with matching attached briefs, trousers, or skin-colored leggings under dresses and skirts. Headscarves were notably missing from that list, which caused Lari to receive some deductions based on the perception that her hijab could fall off during competition.

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UAE figure skater Zahra Lari
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UAE figure skater Zahra Lari
OBERSTDORF, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 29: Zahra Lari of United Arabic Emirates performs at the Ladies short program during the 49. Nebelhorn Trophy 2017 at Eishalle Oberstdorf on September 29, 2017 in Oberstdorf, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Emirati junior figure skater Zahra Lari poses during the figure skating European Cup on April 12, 2012 in Canazei, northern Italy. 17-year-old Lari becomes the first Emirati figure skater to compete in an international competition with skaters from 50 countries taking part in the European Cup from April 9 to 13. AFP PHOTO/ANDREA SOLERO (Photo credit should read ANDREA SOLERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Emirati junior figure skater Zahra Lari performs during the figure skating European Cup on April 12, 2012 in Canazei, northern Italy. 17-year-old Lari becomes the first Emirati figure skater to compete in an international competition with skaters from 50 countries taking part in the European Cup from April 9 to 13. AFP PHOTO/ANDREA SOLERO (Photo credit should read ANDREA SOLERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Emirati junior figure skater Zahra Lari (R) speaks with her coach Noemi Bedo prior performing during the figure skating European Cup on April 12, 2012 in Canazei, northern Italy. 17-year-old Lari becomes the first Emirati figure skater to compete in an international competition with skaters from 50 countries taking part in the European Cup from April 9 to 13. AFP PHOTO/ANDREA SOLERO (Photo credit should read Andrea Solero/AFP/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MAY 19: Figure Skater Zahra Lari of the United Arab Emirates poses for a portrait at Zayed Sports City on May 19, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MAY 19: Figure Skater Zahra Lari of the United Arab Emirates in action during a practice session at Zayed Sports City on May 19, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UAE -- April 13: Zahra Lari, United Arab Emirates first female ice skater practices at the Zayed Sports City Ice Rink in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 23: Zahra Lari poses for a picture at the FBMA Trophy for Figure Skating on January 23, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Cedric Ribeiro/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UAE -- April 21: Zahra Lari, United Arab Emirates first prominent female figure skater poses for a portrait in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, April 21, 2016. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 05: Zahra Lari of United Arab Emirates competes during FBMA Trophy for Figure Skating 2017 at Zayed Sports City on January 5, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 07: Zahra Lari of United Arab Emirates poses for photos after the FBMA Trophy 2017 at Zayed Sports City on January 7, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
OBERSTDORF, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 29: Zahra Lari of United Arabic Emirates performs at the Ladies short program during the 49. Nebelhorn Trophy 2017 at Eishalle Oberstdorf on September 29, 2017 in Oberstdorf, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
SAPPORO, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 25: Zahra Lari United Arab Emirates competes in the women's figure skating on the day eight of the 2017 Sapporo Asian Winter Games at Makomanai indoor skating rink on February 25, 2017 in Sapporo, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
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After explaining that it could not, she has not received any more deductions moving forward.

Though temperatures in her country can get up to 128 degrees during summer, Lari continues to pursue her icy passion which began when she was just 12-years-old and became obsessed with the Disney film, 'Ice Princess.'

And just like any good Disney movie, we can't wait to see the happy ending "Ice Princess" Zahra deserves!

-Joe Cingrana

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