Amna Al Haddad: The first female weightlifter in the UAE

By May Hamad

DUBAI—‪Amna Al Haddad, a weightlifter, works hard in the gym every day. There’s sweat, tears and a lot of pain. Miss Al Haddad, who is 23 years old, also is a freelance journalist. She once wrote sports for The National newspaper and nows works as a freelance journalist who has her own blog. She also is a fitness coach.

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‪Amna Al Haddad trains with free weights. (Photo by May Hamad)

Miss Al Haddad is the first competitive woman weightlifter in the United Arab Emirate. She started her athletics journey in 2009. She was very depressed for long period of time. She reached the point, which hate her self and her life.

She would be sitting on her bed like 16 hours and ate fast food then one day she said that she didn’t want to be like that. She started getting weight training and cross fit. In April 2011, she decided that start competing in events.

Amna’s day starts by 8 o’clock in the morning. She wakes up to eat her favorite breakfast, which is steak and avocado. She trains in the morning and then goes home to recover because recovery is the big part of training. She says you have to balance workouts, resting and eating properly. After she recovers, she then starts to write in her blogs or does freelance journalism work.

After that, she returns to training and studying while developing herself as a coach. The strangest thing that Miss Al Haddad does every day is taking an ice bath. It helps her muscles to recover from her workouts.

Her family was surprised when she chose to be a weightlifter, but they did not refuse to let her participate in the sport. She said her parents preferred her to choose any other type of sport because they were worried about the physical demainds.

“I would not expect anything else, but now they are fine with me doing these and they always wish me the best,” she said.

She said society doesn’t accept her as a weightlifter because it does not understand what she’s doing. People don’t comprehend the benefit of sports for women.

“Society thought that weightlifting make women bulky or makes them more manly, which is extremely untrue,” she said.

She thinks it is very important for women to look after their health. She advised women to be active and choose an exercise that they enjoy doing.

Miss Al Haddad wears a hijab during competition. Most people pay little attention to it, although she sometimes does get a reaction.

“’I’m very positive and I’m lucky to have people who support what I do and this is the big motivation for me and for other women to push them in the sporting weight lifting,” she said.

The athlete has received plenty of email form Emirati and Arab women who are inspired by what she does. Some girls like the idea of being a weightlifter. They want to take part in the sport, but their parents are not comfortable about what they do.

“I think once parents start realizing the benefits of the sport in general, not just physically, they will accept it,” she said. “They will encourage their girls.”

Earlier this month, she represented the United Arab Emirates in the Arnold Weightlifting Championships in Columbus, Ohio (in the United States). It was her first major competition. Miss Al Haddad sees herself in five years coordinating an Olympic-caliber competition in Dubai. She hopes to open a big gym exclusively for women.

And before that?

The 2016 Olympics in Brazil is on her radar.

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