Amna Al Haddad
Sports Pioneer from the Middle East

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Published on June 25th, 2016 | by Amna Al Haddad


UAE Female Weightlifting Earns 1 Quota for RIO


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Amna Al Haddad, Tashkent, Asian Championships Olympic Qualifier

It’s only been about 12 hours since we found out that the UAE has qualified for the Summer Olympics! This is a a very important moment in history for the UAE and for women in the region. It is not often such a sport is associated with women, not often we are taken seriously as athletes, but we had a STRONG showing at the Asian Championships at the Olympic Qualifiers in April that took place in Uzbek.

As I have written in a previous post, we were really close to qualifying, but not quite; however, there was a chance based on final doping results. That’s exactly what happened – athletes abused drugs to improve their performance were busted, as such they lost one or two of their spots as it wasn’t earned based on merit.

Who will get the spot in our team is yet unknown, but will soon be released.

Group pic to Asian Champs


Our efforts – as a team – is the reason we qualified. Each member has their own story in this sport, their struggle, their success. We consist of 7 girls, from different age groups, the younger being 14 to the eldest (myself) 26. And my story is…

I never gave up training, fighting, dealing with difficult people, lack of financial support, dealing with rejection, struggling to find coaches, moving to the US, being told yes only for companies not to follow through, to having to raise funds on crowdfunding platforms and more.

The simple fact, my effort has contributed to RIO’s qualification is truly an honor to have had wore UAE flag on my chest when I competed, and as most of you know I did so while I was injured and advised against training completely. But I wasn’t willing to step away from the platform without putting each ounce of energy left in me to fight – even if it wasn’t what I am truly capable of.  

I hid my tears at night from the pain. I never let it show. I kept my head low, eye on the bar, whether it was 30kgs or 60kgs. It didn’t matter. I treated each lift as “the lift,” even when I was in so much pain. I missed some. Was mad at myself, how come?

But it IS all worth it. The whole journey. The journey of quitting my job, being naive when I started to believe certain things, but also naive not to know truths that shocked me during my journey which allowed me to believe that anything is possible. 

Even when I found out the facts, I still went with my heart.

Nothing was going to stop me to fight for women rights and women empowerment through sports. There’s a lot of talk on empowering women in this world – DON’T TELL ME, SHOW ME. 

Just like I created my dream from nothing into this moment today of hearing our RIO qualification, walk the talk you talk. It’s ABOUT TIME.

With that, I want to thank everyone who supported me in those last four years – either positively or negatively – and yes, some supported negatively in a way that made me more stubborn with their negativity and lack of believe in me.

Today I thank you all – for being there, for walking away, for saying no to me, for letting me be, for supporting me when no one did – the whole 9 yards.

For that we are Olympians.
For that I am part of the Olympic team that qualified us for RIO. 


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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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