For most of us, at three-and-a-half-years-old we’d be happy just to walk across the room.
But for future superstar Lina Fathy Heleika, that was the age she took her first steps into the world of rhythmic gymnastics.
Now eight-years-old, the Egyptian born prodigy recently competed with 100 of her peers in the Egypt National Gymnastics Competition and finished first in Freehand, second in Ball and third in the Rope category.
It was another hugely successful event in Lina’s fledgling career; already she’s competed in 14 competitions across the globe – from Canada to France and back home in Egypt – and at each one she’s been a regular on the podium.
She told GYS about the emotions she experiences when it comes time to perform:
“There’s so much stress and a lot of energy is needed to handle it,” she said. “You have to show that if anything does go wrong, you’re strong enough to continue.
“After each competition there’s a mixture of tears, worry and happiness.”
Lina, who lives in the UAE and attends Dubai British School, trains at Deriugina School Dubai under the tutelage of acclaimed coach Nina Yeresko.
And it is her dream – and the dream of her coaches – that she will one day represent Egypt in the Olympic Games.
She certainly has the drive and determination to succeed; even at her young age she still trains for between four and six hours a day, six days a week, all year round.
Lina is aware that it’s a big commitment, but she also knows it will all be worth it in the end.
She said: “When I started nobody expected I’d be able to make it in this sport but with hard-work it can happen.
“It’s not easy to lose your childhood years but if you have a dream you won’t regret chasing it.”
Before she reaches the pinnacle of the sport that her sights are set on, Lina has plenty more to look forward to.
This month alone she’ll be competing at one of the world’s most prestigious FIG (International Gymnastics Federation) events in Ukraine, where she’ll take on 16 A-level girls in Hoop and Rope events, before heading to Georgia to compete in Hoop and Ball events on the 24th.
And what advice would she give any youngsters thinking about taking up the sport?
“Rhythmic gymnastics is not an easy sport,” she admitted. “You need to be strong, never give up and believe in yourself.
“Never think about tomorrow. Work hard today and success will come to you.”