Gymnast Ruby Hamilton In Training for Olympics
As Abu Dhabi and Dubai prepare to host the Special Olympics World Games, seven women who will be representing the UAE talk about what tolerance, hard work and winning mean to them. Twelve-year-old New Zealand-born rhythmic gymnast Ruby Hamilton is one of the athletes Harper’s Bazaar Arabia features.
Ever since Ruby Hamilton was a little girl, she has loved to twirl ribbons. “To this day she calls it ‘ting ting’, where she solely concentrates for hours dangling a shoe, or anything that satisfies her senses in this way,” explains her mother, Stephanie.
And so when the Special Olympics World Games reps got in touch last year, rhythmic gymnastics seemed a natural fit. Not only has it added an important activity to her life, but exposure to all the other inspiring athletes, too.
“This is something amazing,” Stephanie says. “Her friends can say they did gymnastics and she can say ‘I did too’.”
The training sessions brought with them another unexpected blessing for Ruby and her family. After noticing her daughter interact with other children with Down Syndrome during practice, Stephanie began to explore an autism diagnosis. Emerging research indicates that up to 30 per cent of children with Down Syndrome may also have autism. Knowing that Ruby is on the spectrum has made things easier, Stephanie says.
“Now we know it’s not bad behaviour,” she says, “and we can actually help her”. Ruby – who comes alive with music, loves boy bands and has a great capacity to learn song lyrics – will also sing in the opening ceremony with an all-abilities choir called Ensemble. The hardest part of her thrice-weekly training sessions at FitRepublik in Dubai? “The coach,” jokes Ruby, who has just one response when asked if she wants to win a gold medal: “I will”.
Original article by Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, March 12, 2019.
Photo by Aasiya Jagadeesh.