Amna Al Haddad
Sports Pioneer from the Middle East

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Published on December 26th, 2014 | by Amna Al Haddad


Life, Training & Competing in USA

As the year is coming to an end and it’s been a while since I have blogged (in between busy training, living, traveling and being lazy), I thought it’s a good time to pick up the virtual pen and write about my last few months in the United States from August to November.

Being in the states was such a great experience in ways I can’t really describe — for the first time in my life,  I was away from home, away from a comfort zone, away from a lot of what I knew and got used to. For the time, I was truly alone, and had to take care of myself and all my decisions were 100% mine (they always are, but I tend to discuss with my family often normally.)


Training was a shock to my system as I had to re-learn how to lift again, starting with doing Snatch deadlifts, and learning to how use my legs while lifting the bar only. It was truly a frustrating process, but I was determined to figure out what my coach, Daniel Bell USAW National Coach, was teaching me and showing me over and over again for pretty much most of my duration there.

I had to let go of my ego of starting my warm up set with 35kgs, and go back down to the bar, 25, 30, 33,35,36,37,38, +1kg each time, until I made the lift look great and perfect. There were days where lifting 35kgs felt confusing and heavy. The first few months there has been a lot of plain missed lifts in the snatch in a form of deadlift just because I was trying to figure out the positioning (and mentality trying to figure it out!)

I went to the states with the mind-set: “YES! i’ll be training in a weightlifting gym, with serious athletes and weighlifters and have a coach – PR time!” WRONG. No PRs in my main lifts, but came  back to the UAE being a much better lifter with a technique that is as good as any elite weightlifter out there. My coach said he will work with me to get me to look lifting like an Olympian – the numbers will come with time, and thousands (that being 10,000) of reps with great technique.Oh boy.

I had to learn to unscrew each of the wrong motor patterns I had learnt in the last two years, and re-build everything again – not just from the physical perspective, but the mental, and emotional aspect that’s attached to weightlifting and each of those “reps.”

I truly take this trip a big positive forward for my training and competing as I learned how to finally use my LEGS, slowly learning to approach the bar with emotionless energy and much more.


During my time in the states I competed in two competitions; in Columbus Ohio and in North Carolina. Both events were good learning experiences.

FB Barbell Open – Sept

The I hit 3/6 lifts, enough to get me to second place at the competition. It was a fun event, and I was just a few weeks in the states, so it was awesome to get second place in my weight category while competing in a USA-meet!

Heavy Metal Open – Nov

This was a tough competition. I hit 2/6 lifts. I got my first two snatches, then it took a different turn. I psyched myself too much for my last snatch, while my 2nd snatch was the best snatch I ever hit in competition technically, which has been the main goal of my training, is to pull under the bar and meet the weight in a way to make it look pretty and effortless. I can do it in training, but never been able to in competition until THIS event.

Afterwards it was C&J time. My cleans were really off in the warm up, but my jerks were on spot. As I warm up, my coach and I thought we had more time before my lift on stage, but that wasn’t the case – some people bumped up their numbers, and my last take in the warm up was 12kgs below the weight I was opening with, and so I missed the clean twice, and had to REALLY FIGHT for the last attempt, and I powered the clean – but missed the jerk.

So I bombed out. First competition that I do.

BUT, it was still a positive experience to me, by A) hitting my snatch (my biggest nemesis) , and B) I now know it’s a good idea to go crazy once in a while and vary my attempts whether add 2, 3, 10 kgs at a time, just to mentality be prepared to lift any weight – ANY TIME.

 Cosmo USA

During my time in the USA, I had an awesome photoshoot with Cosmopolitan USA as part of an international feature of eight 8 who are doing big things in their countries and will not take a NO for an answer – check it out HERE.

Thank you

Thanks to my sponsors Fatima Bint Mubarak Academy, with direct thanks to H.H Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak “Mother of the Nation” And Shaikha Fatima Bint Hazza Al Nahyan chairwoman of the board for supporting my athletic journey in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting.

Also thanks to my other sponsors, PurePharma UAE, Live’ly, Balanced BodyMind, Aramex, and Lanjaron Arabia,

Journey to the Olympics

The Journey to the Olympics has been a long one that took many unexpected turns, twists, changes, letting go of people, changing places, struggles – both physical and mental, and resetting and starting over. But this is what it takes to become an elite athlete at a competitive level, putting the long-term goal and foundations as the basis of anything you do, not chasing a PR every week any way possible (Hello injuries!). Choosing to look at what may seem as a negative as a positive instead. Knowing there is more to it than what it may seem. It’s been a process, and  I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings – definitely bigger and better things! Bring it.

Thank you for being part of my journey and see you next year!





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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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