Aisha Ayaz at 9 years of age is making Pakistan proud by winning the gold medal for her nation at the ongoing Al Fujairah Open International Taekwondo Championship.
At the age of eight, when most kids spend their time on smartphones, Ayesha Ayaz made her international debut as Pakistan’s youngest taekwondo practitioner.
Ayesha hails from Swat Valley in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, home to the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.
Like Malala, who became the global symbol of female education, Ayesha is passionate about becoming Swat Valley’s sports icon.
Introduced to martial arts at the tender age of three, Ayesha has won many districts, provincial and international medals.
Her father, Mohammad Ayaz, also a taekwondo practitioner, said she took to the sport after watching him training. She grew up practicing with her brothers Zaryab Khan, 7, and Zeeyab Khan, 5, who are also national champions.
Ayesha is a third-grade student at The Best Schooling Academy in Swat Valley and has a deep-seated passion for sports.
In the conservative part of north-western Pakistan, where education for girls still remains a challenge, Ayesha’s father is determined to help his daughter realize her Olympic dream.
“She is a great little athlete and I will take every step to support her despite social displeasure,” the proud father told Gulf News. “It is hers and now my dream is to see Ayesha participate in [the] Olympics and raise Pakistan’s flag high at the global event.”
Her dedication towards the sport is remarkable at this young age but without government recognition and support, young competitors face a risk of disappointment.
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