Six years ago, Eider Rua wrote a lifelong ambition in his diary: to win a global dance contest.
Yesterday, those dreams became a reality when his troupe beat more than 100 professional dancers from around the world to win first prize in the World Latin Dance Cup in the US.
His team of 12 from BNF dance company, based in Dubai's Knowledge Village, came first in the large groups category of the global salsa championship in San Diego, California.
BNF, which has dance schools in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Medellin in Colombia - from which all its dancers originate - swept the board at the competition, claiming three international trophies in total.
Rua, 31, and his dance partner, Luisa Suaza, 21, won second place in the cabaret section for couples for the second consecutive year. Leidy Henao and Luis Usma, also from BNF, came in third.
Three of the six couples in the cabaret final were from BNF.
"I am so proud of my team," Rua said as he celebrated with his team in Las Vegas yesterday. "They did a brilliant job in the competition, and this is the result of all their previous hard work.
"They were representing Colombia, our home country, and the UAE, where we all live. It was the first time we competed in the competition as a group, and to have reached the final with five other groups from around the world, then win first place, is amazing."
The annual World Latin Dance Cup, previously known as the World Salsa Championships, has been strutting since 2005. For serious dancers, it is one of the most prestigious dates on the calendar.
Although dancers from 40 countries took part, the event was dominated by Colombians.
Cali in Colombia, known in the 1980s as the world's salsa capital, has 200 dance schools. Last year, five of the 12 couples in the finals were Colombian.
Rua began dancing at the age of 12. With failing grades at school, he was put to work by his father, but dreamed of joining the dance school opposite the sign painting store where he toiled.
He began taking lessons in secret, but was dragged out of class by his furious father, who did not approve of his son's dancing.
Rua left home at 13 and began making a name for himself, winning dance trophies and finally returning home to Medellin at the age of 19 to open his own dance school, where his once-disapproving father now works.
Five years ago, he opened his base in Dubai, where he now lives. The Abu Dhabi school opened last month, and Rua now has 250 pupils on his books in the UAE.
He attributes his success to making note of his dreams.
"I started writing them down when I was 15 because it is good to have a five-year plan," he said.
"The list I wrote when I was 15 is very different to the one I made when I was 25, but coming first in the contest was up at the top."