Amna Al Haddad is a UAE national weightlifter, who has broken numerous stereotypes for women in the GCC. She was the first female Emirati and GCC national to compete in the Reebok Crossfit Games; she made history in 2012 by being the first Emirati and GCC national to compete in the Asia Regionals and the only Muslim woman to do so in a headscarf.
In Amna was the first Arab female athlete to signal off We Run Dubai, Nike’s 10K race in 2015. In 2016, in her own words, she had expressed her hope for her achievements to be an inspiration for Emarati women, representing her country in the Olympics in Rio. Whilst she has qualified, injury kept her from competing. Nevertheless, her change-making attitude will persist and we are proud to showcase her!
1. What do you consider the main achievements in your life?
My achievements in life are on different levels, it not specific to being a pioneer in sports. As an Muslim, Arab and Emirati woman my actions toward sports and entrepreneurship have opened a door full of opportunities and chances to work with global brands like Nike, and have a big impact in the Arab world as a role model in sports, and spreading strength sport in the region. Having been the 1st as a hijabi weightlifter in the GCC and 1st Arab crossfitter, and 1st Hijabi athlete sponsored by Nike are all small steps into something bigger. They are, indeed, feats, but they are not what I would see as my biggest achievement just yet. Always hungry for me.
What drives you to be at the Top of your Game? What are your success strategies?
I always start before I am ready. Being ready is an illusion of the mind of wanting perfection before starting anything. In four years I went from being an unhealthy person to competing at an Olympic Qualifier and being a factor in UAE’s qualifying to Rio. When I first said I wanted to compete at the Olympics, I didn’t know what the Olympic really were all about. I put a goal, and worked toward it, and made it happen. To achieve success you have to be willing to fall flat on your face, get slapped by life, and still get the heck up and keep going.
Have you dealt with failure? If so, how did you overcome it and resurge when all the chips were down?
I have dealt with failure more so than success. It easy to look at my story and how its painted by the media – as a full-fledged successful story, rather it seems struggle free -and think there has been no failures. Failures were in terms of company rejections from sponsoring, the fact that I mainly self-sponsored myself during the last four years without a regular income, that aside; dealing with difficult people, training in a gym I built myself, traveling to seek coaches as early in my career none were of a high caliber. How I overcame them, call me creative, or a tad bit nuts. I create opportunities for myself in ways most don’t. I am self-starter, never wait to be handed, but approach all the time. That’s how I got all my yes’s. Through seeking, asking, and never giving up.
Finally, it is important for us to recognise the power of men in supporting women. Is there a man who has played an instrumental role in your personal growth and success? Who are they and how did they influence you?
A friend and mentor, Wael Al Sayegh, a Martial Artist and who has his own FMA academy. He has always been a supportive male in my life, through mentorship, and through dealing with similar challenges in sports himself. Him and his family have always been there and he also said it the best in a recent documentary that I was featured for me: “For me, it doesn’t matter if she competes at the Olympics, her journey, itself, is gold.” He is someone who truly understand the essence of who I and what I do – it is a lot bigger than the Olympics. If anything, the Olympics is a small piece of the puzzle.