Amna Al Haddad
Sports Pioneer from the Middle East

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Published on July 17th, 2014 | by Amna Al Haddad


11th Int’l Women’s Grand Prix & USA Training Trip

Dear Readers,

Thank you for visiting again to read my blog — this post will be about my recent competition at the 11th International Women Grand Prix in Speyer, Germany, last month;  my trip in the USA (Alaska, Ohio, California) and sponsors update!


In May 29th to June 1st, I have traveled to Germany to compete at the 11th International Women Grand Prix, one of the best women-only European championships that attracted over 17 nations, Olympians and world champions. I have competed in this event last year, and it was great to go again. I was the only Arab, Middle Eastern and GCC national to compete in this event from the nations that participated, officially representing the UAE under the UAE Weightlifting Federation.

The first couple of days were focused on lifting and acclimatizing and getting comfortable in the training hall, and see how the stage looks like. As athletes or weightlifters, we have to deal with a lot of changes while traveling for competition, and it’s important we learn to adapt to any kind of changes as soon as possible, because sometimes those changes can throw us off our games — but I’ve been dealing with so much change since I started this journey, it has become second nature (I laugh at it, more change? Bring it!)

I was feeling pretty great during my training days, strong and ready.

…Come competition day, the adrenaline kicked in! Two hours before my session started I weighed in. I compete under the -58kg category. I have decided to go up a category from last year as I realized I am a lot stronger and powerful competing under -58kg (i.e. 53.1 ~ 58.0kgs)

I traveled without a coach in this event, but was lucky to find not one, but two coaches who supported me during my warm-up as I needed someone to count my bars, and tell me when the clocks starts on stage (as I have one minute to perform my lift).

My warm up wasn’t great, I actually was missing lifts that I made easily everyday, but once  I was on stage, I knew I only had that one minute and that ONE CHANCE to lift the bar in front of me. So whatever I had to do, I had to make the lift.

Snatch: 40/42/43 (miss)

Clean & Jerk: 55/58/60 (jerk miss)

Although those numbers are below my training total, it came close and I totaled 100kgs, which is a 10KG competition PR, which is a very big step forward and a huge accomplishment for me, and generally in the sport. The most important thing for me is to focus on the following after each event and factors used to measure progress in the sport:

  1. Open with higher weights than the previous competition (progress check!)
  2. Total higher than the previous competition (Progress check!)
  3. Aim for a 6/6 meet (think of it like getting 100 on a test!  I got 4.5/6 – very very good result!)
  4. I now joined the triple digit total in competition! Woohoo (progress check!)

I am extremely happy with my performance and progress, I have dealt with a lot of adversity that many are not aware about. Everyday has been a fight for me, not just prior to the competition, but the whole two years I’ve done the sport. But this is what is all about, getting up, and going again, and getting better. Here are some pictures from the competition/Germany!

Photo Credit: Sara Al Haddad (Competition/Germany)

 USA Trip (Alaska, Ohio, Cali)


Post competition, I took a month traveling the USA from leisure to training. I went to Alaska for a vacation with my best friend and it was an absolutely amazing and physically challenging vacation from Glacier hiking, to difficult trail hiking in the forest amidst (bears and moose roaming around somewhere), to kayaking, and of course going on cruises. It was great time off, and I would say a good mental push to do things extremely outside of my comfort zone.

It was great to even find out there was crossfit gym, the Apex Gym where I went a few times to do my lifting while still on vacation as it is hard to step away from weightlifting for a long period of time. No excuses, training must continue!

Alaska was absolutely beautiful and I had a great time there; thanks for my bestie for planning in — then she went back home and I stayed back in the US for couple of more weeks for a mini training camp.


Ohio has become my second home away from home! My first time ever visiting the US was in Ohio for the Arnold competition. I visited some friends that I have met at the Arnold weightlifting championships and trained at Rubber City Weightlifting under coach Daniel Bell and assistant coach Mike Walker. It was a great environment with strong athletes, and it was absolutely refreshing to train in a proper weightlifting environment with other athletes, something I struggle with very much back home in the UAE. I had good fun, food, and made new friends and lifted weights!


I always heard great things about cali, and I thought might as well go there while I am in the US. I have trained at Catalyst Athletics with their team and under Greg Everett whom program I have been using.  They have a great facility and a spacious gym with many platforms and barbells! During my time in cali, they also hosted a seminar with Russian Olympians and world champions Oxana Silvenko, and Vasily Poloknikov, with Nikita Durnev and the national coach Vladimir Safonov. It was another great learning experience where I learned new tips and tricks to improve my lifting!

Overall, I loved my whole trip to the USA — it something that I really needed to do, and I am very glad that I did. Traveling for 5 weeks was great for my soul, body and mind, although exhausting with many flights to catch!

Weightlifting has become a lifestyle and part of life, and a main reason of my personal growth as a person and getting outside of my comfort zone. Thank you weightlifting!


After many months, and years of struggle to find sponsors, I have finally started to gain different levels of support that are helping me everyday toward my 2016 Olympic goal. I would say persistence is key. To reach any goal in life, you will get many no’s but if you keep fighting and persisting, something will give. Whatever you put out there in the universe, you get back! This is a blessing from God, pure grunt and ground work, and luck. I am proud to announce the following sponsors and supporters:


PurePharma, Aramex, Lanjaron Arabia, and Live’ly.


California Chiropractic Center, Keith Littlewood from Balanced Body Mind, Magnet Media, and Arab Youth Venture Foundation.

If you are interested in joining this awesome group of supporters and sponsors, do not hesitate to get in touch with me directly at Training for the Olympics to represent the UAE is an honor and require different levels of backing from financial or in-kind support. There is still room for sponsors — don’t shy away, drop an e-mail and join in!

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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