Amna Al Haddad
Sports Pioneer from the Middle East

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Published on January 1st, 2013 | by Amna Al Haddad


2012 in The Rearview Mirror: Crossfit, Journalism & Olympics

The best way to describe 2012 is that it has been like an unpredictable flight turbulence. Overwhelming. Emotional. Adventurous. Scary. Relieving. Exciting. But most of all, it has been life-changing.

As human beings we grow up and live in different phases through life in terms of age, but also do so through “specific experiences” that changes us. Last year I had experienced that phase – a turning point.

Although I cannot seem to pinpoint the actual day or actual moment – but it has been the sum of everything that has happened last year.


In 2012, the major changes in gear started with me competing in the Reebok Crossfit Games Open, and further qualifying to compete at the Reebok Crossfit Asia Regionals, in Seoul South Korea in May. This event was truly a big moment for me – traveling for the first time in YEARS, to an international competition, and making history for the UAE. I repeat, though, without the support of two Emiratis – Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki and his business partner – I wouldn’t have been able to reach to the level I am today. so I truly thank them for their believe in me.

Funny though, when I first started training for the competition,  my only intention was bettering myself as an athlete, but I truly surprised myself by how much more I am capable of achieving and it went beyond just bettering myself – but also help better my society and people in the UAE and worldwide.

As my participation in sports increased and being publicly active through social media, universities, and events, I realized the responsibility that heavily lays on my shoulders in representing the UAE in the media both locally and internationally, as well as be a channel for educating our youth.

Since I competed in Crossfit, I received a lot of e-mails and messages from girls who were inspired to start training in Crossfit – and it actually spread an interest, not just locally, but regionally such as in Kuwait.


Journalism. I love it. I love writing. Meeting new people. Hearing inspirational stories, sad stories, unique stories…But there was a point where my passion for sports surpassed finding a middle ground between sports and journalism for so many reasons. Therefore, I made a decision to quit my full-time job with The National Newspaper in June of last year, and take a leave of absence of full-time journalism till further notice.

One of the big moment for me as a reporter was having an exclusive interview with Sheikh Ahmed Bin Hasher about the end of his Olympic dream due to a heart condition. Sheikh Ahmed is thus far the only Emirati Olympic Gold Medalist, and having had the pleasure to sit with him and learn how much work and years of training it took to win a gold medal was eye-opening and made me reflect a lot on my own athletic career.

Months later, my passion for sports was on full-gear and I decided to resign. However this does not mean I am no longer a journalist. In fact, I have found a way to still practice journalism while pursing sports full-time, which is freelance! In the past few months I have been contributing to Sport360 Newspaper where I write about Emirati athletes and local sports events contributing to the society – which is exactly within the lines of what I love to do – combining journalism, sports and pursuing an athletic career. I actually found my middle ground! ;)

And definitely cannot forget this big moment for me as an athlete being covered in the media – was featured in The New York Times! So I am quit still heavily involved with the journalism world – just on each side of the coin ;).

2016 Rio Olympics

Although I truly enjoyed my Crossfit experience, when I first started Crossfit I did it for one reason – to learn Olympic Weightlifting. Weightlifting – since I started it – always made me feel empowered, physically and mentally. The sport goes beyond what you just see, beyond just the barbell and plates that’s being lifted and thrown. There is more to it – discipline, mindset, determination, respect, courage, humbleness, strength and confidence.

So I made the decision to become a full-time athlete – and yes being an athlete IS a full-time job that requires WORK, unlike the misconception that it is a “waste of time”, or just a “hobby.” And what better goal to aim for as an athlete is the Olympics? The ultimate destination all athletes wish to reach.

Just a few months ago I made the announcement of starting my training for Weightlifting full-time. That has already started and it’s rather INTENSE with FAST, athletic training performance center in Dubai. My training constitutes of training for an average of 3 hours a days, 5-6 days a week; watching my nutrition; seeing a chiropractor for maintenance; and a lot more!

Being an athlete has truly taught me a lot of things, and I am still learning everyday from my training sessions how to control my reaction, how to program my thinking, how to approach the barbell – and all of those mirror how I deal with the situations, people, and things that surround my “external, everyday” life.

Seeing how far I have reached in a short period of time, I have learned that once I truly set my mind on a goal – I go after it like a bull (okay not really :P), but you get my drift. I don’t stop until I have achieved what I aim for – and my next goal is take part of weightlifting competitions as of this year  – regionally and internationally to help me get closer to my Olympic dream in 2016 of representing the UAE in weightlifting.


If you’re interested in hearing more about my Olympic pursuit and competitions and looking to sponsor an aspiring and determined Emirati athlete, send an e-mail to
Also find me on social media:
Twitter (Think #Amna2016): @amna_alhaddad
Facebook: AmnaSAlHaddad
Youtube: 999fitness

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About the Author

Amna Al Haddad , born in 21 Oct 1989, is an Emirati who always had a passion for health and fitness. She made history by being the first Emirati and GCC national to ever to participate in the Reebok Crossfit Games Asia Regionals. Since then she embarked on Olympic Weightlifting with being an IWF Arab and West-Asian Champ -63. A NIKE sponsored athlete, a motivational speaker and published author.

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