Amna Al Haddad
Sports Pioneer from the Middle East

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Published on October 3rd, 2012 | by Amna Al Haddad


Goodbye Crossfit, Hello Weightlifting

In the past year I have reached and crossed mountains I doubted I was ever able to cross, and as I sit here and write this post a sense of deja vu lingers. Exactly a year ago I made a public announcement about starting to train in hopes I can compete in the Reebok Crossfit Games Asia Regional 2012  and with the re-launch of my blog, I come with some big news.

I did it.

I got the score that made me qualify. I made it to the airplane. Landed in another country for the first time in ages. I competed among the fittest in Asia. In just one workout –  that was my goal.


Part of me still can’t comprehend I made it that far, but I always believed, with all my heart, that I have what it takes to fight through the mental doubts, negative self-talk, physical agony to make it. I made it. Despite all odds. I achieved my goal.

A few months ago I got to thinking as a result of some incidents. Those incidents got me soul-searching. Badger myself with questions. Wallow in some tears, even. I decided to take a step back, assess the situation and make one final decision. After eating that emotional salad“, I’ve made up my mind and focus on my real goal, my next big step. I decided it’s time for me to leave Crossfit as my choice of sport.

It was a heavy decision to make (forget the weight I lift! It was much much heavier.)

I invested a lot of time in Crossfit. I made amazing amount of progress from not knowing how to skip to doing double-unders; from not being able to squat to squatting more than my bodyweight for reps, ATG; from never doing a handstand in my LIFE to doing handstand pushups and repping them;  and winning 2nd place in a local crossfit competition to name a FEW… I grew as a person and as an athlete through my first experience in real “competitive sport.”

It changed me. For the better.

But it also created a hole in my mind.

What I haven’t mentioned is…the doubts. The doubts that kept nagging at the back of my head – from my light bodyweight in heavy workouts; from the lack of certainty of where I stand (all the time); from the lack of bodyweight categories; the questioning of if lifting only 1 additional kilo in a squat is considered a PR; to questioning myself if I ever had a shot at Regionals again in 2013.

The questions, the questions, the questions…

They made me realize I achieved what I aimed for and the constant doubt meant one thing. My heart is somewhere else.

To have continued doing Crossfit for another year would have hampered my progress in what I aim for to achieve in four years.

I had my moment with Crossfit. I said I will, I cried, I doubted, I stood up, I fell on my face, I told myself I can, and I did.

It had nothing to do with me making history for the UAE, either. That happened as a domino effect of my sheer determination of wanting to achieve something for “me,” as a person.

I do not, for a nano second, regret my Crossfit experience. It was amazing, mind-numbing, exciting, nerve-wrecking, emotional – it tapped into my potential and what I am capable of. That frightens me.

But it’s time to move on. As a result I have left my box Reebok Crossfit LifeSpark where I trained for a year and met great amount of people who I struck friendships with, created irreplaceable memories, and thanks to my coaches who helped me progress.

Now my eye is on a bigger goal, my ultimate destination as an athlete, the one I knew I wanted from the get-go – 2016 Olympics, in weightlifting. Therefore from now on and onwards my training will be specific toward developing me as an Olympic Weightlifter – one who is aiming for the gold.

In the past few weeks I have started training with my new coach from FAST , specialized in athletics training (more on that soon!). In our first training phase, we’re working on my structural balance – which is the foundation and will be the base of my strength that will develop me as an athlete who can use her body as one unit; and mostly importantly, the preventive measure from injuries in the future.

This is going to be one helluva journey for me. And here it starts.

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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.

  • Omar Al Gergawi

    Awesome, Ill be looking for your name at the winners podium inshalla.
    Until then work your ass off!!!

    • Amna_AlHaddad

      Dear Omar, Thank you for visiting my website & leaving a comment. InshAllah!

  • Alex Bernier

    You’re not going to regret this! Keep up the amazing work and listen to what we tell you… I promise you’ll achieve anything you put your mind to!

  • Nancy

    Just to clarify, did you qualify for the Asia regionals individually or did you go as part of a team? I ask as I’ve read newspaper articles which sort of suggest it was a team not an individual score. If that’s not the case, might be something to ask them to word more carefully in future as it makes it sound like it was a collective qualification, not individual.

    • Amna_AlHaddad

      Hi Nancy. Thanks for your message. Yes I qualified as part of a team which I mentioned in the linked post & mentioned in my bio regarding my competing in the Asia regionals. I did score as top of the 3 women in our team in the final workout which was the score that I was looking for to achieve personally to qualify to participate. This post is about my personal experience throughout the whole crossfit journey and not about me competing in the Asia regionals per se. Hope that clears things up. Regards, =)

  • John Ireland

    I am showing this blog to my daughter. She loves sports but her friends just want to shop and talk. This will show her that she is not alone.

    • Amna_AlHaddad

      Dear John, thank you for your message. Taking part of sports really does help on so many levels and not just the physical aspect! I wish your daughter to pursue her dreams in sports and she can still hang out with her friends at the mall and talk from time to time ;).

  • facebook

    way to go Amna, wish you the best! I told my wife about you to encourage her to do crossfit with my, but she thinks that weighlifting only for bulky girls also she always thinks and said that western girls are different until I show her you blog and she suprised middle eastern girl does weighligting. but unfortunatly that we don’t have bumper plates in KSA and I was hopping you shopes in UAE that provides these types of equipment to buy for her. Thankyou for encouraging my wife to give it try.
    just in case you have stores in mind would like to mention, here is my email: Thank you again

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