Dubai: The 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games are among her long-term goals but for now, Emirati weightlifting pioneer Amna Al Haddad is busy testing herself in international competitions. She has already made history by being the first Emirati girl to take part in the Crossfit Asia Regional 2012 recently, but her journey has just begun.
In an exclusive interview to XPRESS, the 22-year-old Dubai-based Emirati girl, who has given up journalism to concentrate on her passion full time, says she hopes to improve everyday in order to fulfill her dream.
“My short term goals are to get better everyday - be it in my lifts, my stamina, my eating habits, and be able to perform to my best physical ability, which in turn will help me with my long term goals which at the moment is competing in the Crossfit Asia regional 2013, exposing myself to more competitions and hopefully taking part in the Olympics one day,” she said.
Amna revealed that her journey with weights only began in her search for a healthy lifestyle.
“Throughout my teenager years, I was leading a very unhealthy lifestyle. When I was 17, I started doing some research on how to become healthy and I came across weightlifting. I was never an athlete growing up by any means, but when I heard about weightlifting and its many benefits, I couldn’t help but try it out - and I fell in love,” she said.
“When I first started, I was mainly doing weight training without any specific goal in mind, however, in 2009 my training in became more serious, although with no goal in mind still. However in 2011, is when my training kicked off to a whole new level.
I was introduced to Crossfit in April, but I used to do it occasionally with my personal trainer once a week or so, however in October I decided I wanted to take part in competitions,” she added.
Understandably, she faced hurdles pursuing her passion, but Amna says she was never deterred.
“The main challenges I faced when I decided to take the sports were mainly trying to change the misconception people have about women weightlifting and “bulking up”, which are not true. As well as receiving some negative comments from some Arab men about what I do, I was surprised there were those supportive as well,” she said.
And she hopes her participation in international meets will inspire other Emirati girls as well.
“Taking part in the Crossfit Asia regionals was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had and I hope through my participation more women, not just in the UAE but the Arab world, will be encouraged to participate.
“I have to add though that finding someone to sponsor me was a bit of a battle and without Sultan Al Darmaki and his business partner’s support I wouldn’t have been able to take part, so I am truly grateful they believed in me and wanted to support a young athlete,” she said.
“I hope my participation in both weightlifting and crossfit will inspire other Emirati girls to try out the sport and understand its benefits. It may take time for women to warm up to the idea, but there is a small shift in the fitness industry in the UAE and I believe it will continue to grow. And being part of any sport is better than not being active, either conventional or non conventional,” she added.