Amna Al Haddad
Sports Pioneer from the Middle East

Blog Int.woman weight lifting Grand Prix Austria-00211

Published on May 24th, 2013 | by Amna Al Haddad


Competing at the 10th Int’l Weightlifting Women Grand Prix

As I embarked my second international weightlifting competition, it was yet another great learning experience. Unlike my previous competition in the US, competing in the 10th International Weightlifting ASVO-NO Women’s Grand Prix 2013, in Austria was not planned at all.


Less than two weeks before the competition, I was going with good faith that I will get my visa on time to travel to make it to the competition. With a lot of hard work, phone calls, patience and help from the Austrian Ambassador to the UAE, Peter Elsner-Mackay, I was able to get my passport back almost 14hrs before my travel! Also during the same week of my travel, I injured my wrist in one of the sessions which was weighing heavily on my mind, as after all that hard work to ensure I get the chance to compete, I get injured! It took a lot of me not think negatively and do what I can to make my wrist better for the competition, from resting, icing, to compressing.

And there it was. Bag packed. Passport in handbag. And Mom drops me to the airport. It is the morning of the flight. With this being my third time traveling to compete in the last 12 months, I’m slowly getting accustomed to the concept of flying and have learnt tricks to make the flight more comfortable, and to my advantage it was only a 5.5hrs flight, a straight flight from Dubai to Vienna, so it wasn’t so bad!

And there we were, my coach Olivier Lamoureux from FAST Athletic Training and I landed, we were picked up at the airport and driven to a beautiful area called Brunn am Gebirge to stay in a guesthouse where many of the athletes were staying. Since I’ve never been to Europe before, I was shocked by the fact there were no air conditioners in the room! X_X! No matter how cold the weather is, I love my A/C. But I managed eventually, although woke up from night sweats a few times (worked to my advantage, since I needed to lose a bit of weight! Everything happens for a reason, seems like an appropriate line to put here?)

So, I’ve had a few days off training to allow my wrist to heal, and it was time to test it and see how it feels like to lift. We were taken by the organizer and host of the competition Konrad Hogg to a training hall inside a school, where I did a bit of lifting, so some heavy squats, moderate snatches and clean and jerks. My wrist was feeling A-okay, but was still painful (thank you advil for saving me during those few days!) Then we went to check out the competition venue in the Sport Hall where I spent a few minutes taking in my surroundings to visualize and find a spot to look at while I lift for competition day. Unlike my previous competition, the platform was the same level as the judges and spectators (basically, right in front of me as I lift).

The next day, we went to the Sport Hall to train a bit and get my wrist back into the game and my mindset ready for competition day – the next day, the 10th of May!


Here it was! Competition day.

This is was the first time I compete at night. My session was at 7p.m. So this how the day went leading up to the event…


Woke up in the morning from the smell of the coffee just outside my room were all the athletes were having breakfast, talking about weighing in. As there was no scales in the guesthouse, some of the athletes brought their own scales and they were nice enough to offer me to use their scale. This time, unlike last time, my weight was actually over 53.0kgs. I was weighing 53.8kgs, so I needed to lose at least 800gm to make the weigh in. Everyone told me not to worry (as I always do!). I had a protein shake + an avocado for breakfast.


We headed to the sport hall to get me moving, do trigger point therapy, foam roll and some dynamic warm-up to get me to sweat a bit. Went to check my weight afterwards and I have dropped a few 100gms. Then we headed back to the guesthouse and I had a steam bath to get me to sweat some more (my gosh, I was so drained out of energy at that point.) I felt exhausted as I couldn’t hydrate or eat for energy so I can make weight. Then I took a short nap, before heading to the Sport Hall again to watch the competition.

5:00pm-7:00pm (Official Weigh-In for 53kg category competitors)

After a long wait and watching the Masters and Girls divisions compete, and a few sips of amino acids to rehydrate and to give me the energy. It was time for the weigh-in. I was very nervous to step on the scale, but my weight was exactly 52.9kgs by the time of the weigh in, and I was thrilled and relieved when I saw my weight. Then it was time to EAT, and sip on more AMINO.

Then things went so FAST and is actually (currently) blurry in my memory. As I started warming up, we were approached to be part of the opening ceremony where we walked to represent our country as there were  16 nations with 66 athletes competing at the event. Then we had to also go and represent ourselves as the athletes in the 53kg category before we started lifting.

Also while warming up, I have gotten a lovely surprise where I was approached by a few people (an Arab community that lives in Austria who came down especially to support me and held UAE flag for me). I was very thankful to have that kind of support internationally.

And there it was. Competition time!

7:00p.m. (Competition begins)

It’s such a strange feeling when you hear YOUR name being called to come up on the platform. It always feels surreal and confusing, because the moment has arrived…and you only have one minute to perform your lift.

Part I: Snatch.

As I walked to the stage and the bar is loaded with 32kgs, I felt the nerves really kick in this time. 32kg for me is really light weight, I do it in training without thinking once about the weight on the bar and often smoothly. However, in competition the nerves really got to me…and I missed my first lift.

In fact, I was so confused and a bit shocked that I lost it. I honestly did not know what happened. NERVES!

Knowing my lifts and how much I can perform, and with a mental push from my coach, I went and nailed my second and third attempts, 35kgs and 38kgs respectively, with a VENGEANCE!

Funny though, in training, I HAVE NEVER powered 38kgs. NEVER. I’ve always pulled under it. Well, upside is, I am a lot stronger than I thought and probably can add anywhere between 5-10kgs to my snatch if I were to pull under.

I have realized due to inexperience in competition, I somehow favor power version of the lifts (unconsciously unfortunately, however, now aware). However, with more competition, and experience, pulling under the bar should become a lot easier and more comfortable on stage while many are watching. 

Part II: Clean and Jerk

Then it was C&J time. What I am actually strong at. So I warm up back stage, it’s going very well, and then I get called for my first lift 48kgs. The same thing happens (although very capable of pulling under that weight with ease, I froze and stuck to power again). I easily get the clean and have a strong and smooth jerk. Although, as I jerked, my wrist wrap actually slipped and I was SO aware of it opening and literally sliding down my hands (as I had to stable myself in the jerk). I had to stay focused on the task at hand and not get distracted. PHEW! It was a close call….

And then I follow with a 50kgs lift, and I get the clean easily, but I lost the jerk. I just wasn’t ready for it mentally, and I knew I pressed it out so it made fighting for it very tough as I knew I wouldn’t get the lift. Next, I attempt 51 which I also know I am capable of doing. However, I missed it.

Clean and jerks just weren’t my strength that day, but I killed the Snatches! But it’s alright. Why?


I actually got a new PB compared to my previous competition total by 4kg. From 82kgs to 86kgs.  Despite competing with a wrist injury, in an unplanned competition which I wasn’t training to peak for. I also wasn’t the first person to open in any either the Snatch or Clean and Jerk. And based on Sinclair points, I finished 33 out of 46 athletes in the senior category in the international level — so I am definitely heading toward the direction.

Overall, I am very happy with my performance and result given the circumstances and I know I’ve given it my 100% on that day. What matters is really enjoying the experience and learning something new each time, and I have definitely learned a thing or two about myself in this competition which gives me something to work towards and better further for future competitions.

Experience in Pictures…

 Experience in Video…

In the News…

Locally: and Internationally:

Thanks to everyone who have been contentiously supportive, my individual sponsor Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki, FAST Athletic Training, Emirates Weightlifting Federation, and California Chiropractic Center.

If anyone is interested to contribute to my development as a competitive athlete and get the chance to compete more often…please get in touch by e-mailing

Thanks for reading!

Until next time ;)


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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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