Photo By Noorena Shams

Noorena Shams was Born on October 10, 1997 in Lower Dir, Noreena started cycling in her neighborhood at the age of 10. She would go out with her younger brother and cycle for hours. All of this was possible while her father, Shams-ul-Qamar, a local politician and businessman, would be away for work. It wasn’t easy for a girl in that conservative society to roam around freely. One day her father came to know about Noreena’s activities; fortunately, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for her.

Shams has been a sportsperson since 2008. She was the first ever cyclist to win a silver medal for Pakistan in the Junior Olympics. Shams has played different sports and has won 63 gold medals, 24 silver medals and 5 bronze medals. As a squash player, Shams has been among the Top 40 Asian Junior Squash Players, and is currently ranked 209 in the world. She is currently World Number 212 by the Professional Squash Association. She is coached by Munawar Zaman, Shahzad Mohibullah Khan, Adil Khan and Tariq Khan.

“My father scolded me a little but later allowed me to participate in local cycling events,” Noorena says. “I gradually climbed the ladder of success to emerge as a prominent local cyclist. That was when I also started eyeing an international cycling competition in the US.”

Photo by : Noorena Shams

Shams won silver in cycling at the junior Olympics and is the youngest South Asian to do so.

In December 2017, Noorena participated in the Pakistan Open Squash Championship in Islamabad where a majority of the Pakistani players, including Noorena, were knocked out in the first round. “That was surprising for me. Then I thought about the gap between the training and practice of Pakistani and international players. I approached the top professional coach Amir Wagih and sought admission to his academy in Washington DC. I reached the US in February 2018

In July 2018, Noorena travelled to Bristol to attend the Elite Squash Academy and spend about one-and-a-half month there. “The time at the academy was remarkable. I learnt a great deal under the top coach Hadrian Stiff. I had had a rollercoaster journey but my self-confidence was boosted. Right now my entire focus is on the national championship next year. I will make a mark at the national circuit this time round

Photo by : HBL PSL

Shams was listed among the 100 Inspirational Women by Paparazzi Magazine in 2016. She was on the list of 50 Influential Ladies of Pakistan in 2016 and was listed among the 24 Inspirational Figures of Pakistan in 2016 by the UNDP.  She also featured in the “BEAT ME” video by UNWOMEN, and was awarded with a Government Pendent of Recognition in 2016. Shams works against harassment in sports and against harassment of female Muslim athletes around the world. She delivered a TEDxTalk in 2016. Shams received the Gul Jee Art Award several times. She is a 3-time All Pakistan debating champion. She has credited her father as her inspiration for debating, however she has not competed in debating since 2014. Shams was also invited by Malala Fund to address the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 2017, focusing on women’s economic empowerment.

May 22, 2022

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