Bold move: As the first Emirati woman to compete in the Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008, Thuraya is something of a superwoman. Left paralysed on one side of her body by a stroke at the age of 29, it took years of rehabilitation and training before she scooped gold medals in the javelin and shot put in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.

Work ethic: Thuraya is quick to dismiss the incredible hard work and determination that have got her where she is, saying simple, “My challenges are in the past, thank God,”. But speaking in a film about her life, ‘My Incredible Story’, which was launched by the Doha 2015 Organising Committee, she gave some indication of toughness of her human spirit, saying, “It was my physical situation that led me to take up para-athletics. It is very difficult and requires greater effort but that shouldn’t stop us from riding this wave and demonstrating that para-athletes can overcome their disability, excel and take para-athletics to a higher level. Sport to me is hope. It is giving. It renewed my weak muscles and also moved me from a state of reclusiveness and depression to a state of hope, determination and a perpetual smile.”

Future goals: Thuraya’s focus in on coaching future generations to follow their athletic dreams. “I hope to continue with sport coaching. With determination and will power, the UAE can achieve more sporting goals.”

Be inspired: “There is nothing stopping any woman from becoming a star in the sky. Arab women are a great example of feminine excellence across social, cultural and athletic fields.”

** Thuraya Hamad Al Zaabi says: “First of all, I am grateful for God because of all of this. Without determination and my belief there would be no votes for me.”