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At 9, Kashmir’s Atiqa emerges as ‘Fastest Girl in the World’ of Karting in UAE

‘Females can succeed on a global stage’
03:51 AM Mar 30, 2024 IST | MUKET AKMALI
at 9  kashmir’s atiqa emerges as ‘fastest girl in the world’ of karting in uae
At an age when most children are still playing with toys, nine-year-old Atiqa Mir from Srinagar’s Nishat area is leaving grown men in her rear-view mirror on the racetrack.
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Srinagar, Mar 29: She is shattering speed limits and gender barriers. At an age when most children are still playing with toys, nine-year-old Atiqa Mir from Srinagar’s Nishat area is leaving grown men in her rear-view mirror on the racetrack.

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The young female Karting sensation continues to amaze the motorsports world with her blistering speed, laser-focus dedication, and remarkable results behind the wheel.

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In just her first full season racing in the fiercely competitive UAE IAME National Karting Championship Mini R category, the nine-year-old prodigy was crowned vice-champion.

Against a stacked field of 26 international karters, many of them years older, Atiqa handled the intense pressure with poise.

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She finished runner-up with a scintillating pace across all seven rounds.

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Atiqa's astounding rookie campaign saw her become the highest-ranked female karter under 10 years old across any FIA or CIK national karting championship in the world.

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Kart racing, also known as karting, is a form of open-wheel motorsport that involves small, lightweight, low-powered vehicles called karts or go-karts.

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"For me, it was cars, cars, and more cars since I can remember. I didn't own a single doll or a soft toy. I just loved collecting cars and racing them. I was different from other girls,” Atiqa told Greater Kashmir.

Her passion for motorsports was sparked when she was just five-year-old during a chance encounter with electric go-karts at a Dubai mall.

“I made my father drive me to this mall every weekend. In the summer of 2021, during my vacation, at the age of six, I accompanied my father to the kart track in Dubai. Despite being the youngest and the only girl there, I quickly proved my mettle by becoming the fastest driver after just 4 days on the track,”

she recalls. “For my first championship race in September 2021, at the tender age of six, I owe a debt of gratitude to my father for allowing me to compete in the Bambino category (5 to 8 yrs). Despite lacking prior experience and being overweight, my raw speed propelled me to finish 2nd in my very first race, competing against seasoned boys from Europe and the UAE.”

Atiqa says that her first win came in the IAME UAE National Day Cup in Ras al Khaimah in December 2021.

“It was an unforgettable moment, and the feeling of victory was unparalleled. Despite being the only girl among boys, the overwhelming support and encouragement fueled my determination,” she says. “Recognising the importance of fitness for speed, I embarked on a rigorous fitness regimen to shed body fat, build strength, and improve cardiovascular endurance. With the guidance of top trainers, I shed 9 kg, strengthened my physique, and witnessed a continuous improvement in my performance.”

On turning eight, she obtained her professional Karting National License, enabling her to compete in National Championship Races in the UAE.

“Despite being a girl among more than 28 drivers, I continued to excel and outperform my competitors,” she says. “As a role model for girls, I aspire to demonstrate that females can compete and succeed on a global stage. Despite facing aggression from male competitors, I embrace the challenge and aim to inspire other girls to pursue Karting and other sports."

Reflecting on the 2023-24 karting season, Atiqa says she was grateful for the successes achieved.

“Despite encountering technical disqualifications that hindered my chances, I finished as Vice Champion in two UAE National Championships. With unwavering determination, I remain committed to striving for victory in upcoming championships,” she says. “Looking ahead, my management has decided to test my skills in the most challenging karting circuits in Europe. Invitations from the Spanish Karting Federation and the IAME Euro series present formidable challenges, but I am ready to compete against the world's best drivers.”

As the highest-ranked female karter under 10 years in the world, earning the title of ‘Fastest Girl in the World’, Atiqa feels honoured to represent India and Kashmir on the global stage.

“To my Kashmiri sisters, I hope my journey inspires you to believe in yourselves, and I urge parents to support their daughters in sports,” she says.

Atiqa has set her eyes on becoming a Formula 1 driver.

“Driven by the ambition to become the first female driver in modern Formula 1, I am determined to reach the pinnacle of racing,” she says. “In my category, we reach speeds of 105 kmph on straights and negotiate turns at 95 kmph.”

Atiqa says that outside of karting, she enjoys training, exercising, and playing outdoors.

Atiqa's father, Asif Mir, beams with pride at his daughter's remarkable achievements on the racing circuit.

Reflecting on the experience of watching his daughter drive at speeds of up to 105 kmph, Asif, a former racing driver himself, says, “As a former racing driver myself, I am comfortable seeing Atiqa drive at such speeds. Safety standards in the kart and tracks are very high. But there is always some element of risk as it is Motor Racing. She has great car control at such a young age.”

On what sets Atiqa apart from others, Asif highlights her rare natural ability, saying, “Atiqa has a rare natural ability which very few drivers have. With hard work, dedication, and the right support, she has the potential to be at the top of the world."

Drawing parallels between their achievements, Asif acknowledges the possibility of a “like father, like daughter” scenario.

"Maybe, yes. I was India’s first National Karting Champion. I was also Vice Champion in Formula Asia back in 2001. Atiqa is on her way now, and she has the talent to surpass all my records and more Inshaa Allah. It is in the genes,” he says.

Commenting on Atiqa’s early foray into European racing circuits at the age of nine, Asif emphasises the importance of competing with the best to excel.

“I feel to beat the best you have to drive with the best. At only nine, Atiqa is one of the few drivers and the first Indian girl representing India to go to Europe to learn from the very best,” he says.

Regarding his role in her burgeoning career, Asif underscores his responsibility to provide Atiqa with a robust support system.

“My role is to provide her with the support system so she can perform at the highest level. This includes getting a team of professionals together who manage her, like trainers, coaches, teams, engine builders, and sports psychologists to ensure her optimum performance,” he says.

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