Amna Al Haddad – First Female Emirati Weightlifter

“You can always decide how far you want to go with weight training, losing body fat, or becoming a competitive athlete in strength sports. Everything that happens will be based on a choice you decide to make.” Anna Al Haddad, Olympic Female Weightlifter

UP for Women recently talked to Amna Al Haddad, an Olympic weightlifter competing internationally and working towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. We caught up with her recently whilst she takes time out from competitive training to nurse an injury.

Amna is an advocate for female sports and a voice of empowerment for women, demonstrating that the two characteristics of being a women and being physically strong can exist together.

When she first started her journey, she had no idea how many firsts she was going to achieve. She was the first female Emirati and GCC national to compete in the Reebok Crossfit Games Open in 2012 and progressed from there.

After competing in the Crossfit Asia Regionals that year, weightlifting became her main focus, as all she did was think about weightlifting! Her relationship with weight training is one of love and hate, with her finding it empowering and frustrating at the same time.

And her advice for women who might be thinking about weights?

“You will only know you love it when you pick up the weights and see how strong you keep getting. You can always decide how far you want to go with weight training, losing body fat, or becoming a competitive athlete in strength sports. Everything that happens will be based on a choice you decide to make.”

If you had three words to describe weightlifting, what would they be?

Love/hate Relationship. Empowering. Frustrating.

There are a lot of ‘firsts’ in your CV. Do you consider yourself to be a trailblazer?

I was put in the position by media where I have become. When I first started my journey I had no idea how many firsts I was going to break and achieve through my personal journey. I do surely see myself a voice for women empowerment, and an advocate for female sports.

How did weightlifting become your main focus?

Weightlifting became my main focus after I have competed in the Crossfit Asia Regionals, and was still working as a journalist. My love for the sport became evident as all I did was think about weightlifting at the time. Currently, I am nursing an injury, L5S1 hernia, so I am not training to compete.

What are the main frustrations that you encounter as a female weightlifter?

The main frustrations for me has been doing a sport that is not just generally male dominated, but also not culturally acceptable in the Arab world; but through my actions and showing that women can lift weights, be physically strong are two characteristics that can exist together without one compromising the other.

Finding support and funding has been the most difficult aspect, really.

What advice would you give to women who might be thinking about weight training?

You will only know you love it when you pick up the weights and see how strong you keep getting. You can always decide how far you want to go with weight training, losing body fat, or becoming a competitive athlete in strength sports. Everything that happens will be based on a choice you decide to make.

Click to find out about lifting weights with Ultimate Performance: http://up.tips/UPWContactF