Amna Al Haddad is a sports pioneer from the Gulf, motivational speaker, mental health advocate and writer. She is known for breaking the glass ceiling as an Olympic weightlifting athlete from the UAE. Prior to embarking on her athletic journey, Amna worked as a journalist at The National Newspaper in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and maintained a health and fitness blog ‘999 Fitness’, which she shared about at a Tedx event in 2011.
In 2012, she decided to turn her passion into a career and became a full-time athlete. Within the same year, her hard work and dedication paid off when she made history for becoming the first Arab woman to compete in the Reebok Crossfit Asia Regionals in Seoul, South Korea. By 2013, Amna broke even more barriers for Arab women by competing internationally and becoming the first competitive Weightlifter from the Gulf to do so in Hijab. Having competed in the Arnold Sport festival in Ohio and several other international events, in 2015 she won 6 gold medals and 3 silver medals at the IWF Asian Interclub Championships in Jordan. In 2016, Amna decided to realize her dream of participating at the Olympics in Rio. She set out to join her fellow UAE team members in competing at the Asian Championships Olympics qualifier in Uzbekistan. Despite her injuries, Amna persevered and her participation led to the UAE team gaining more qualifying points. These points were a defining factor in the UAE weightlifting team making it through to Rio. Amna was not able to continue the journey due to her injuries.
In 2015, the Clinton Foundation in collaboration with Cosmopolitan USA selected Amna as one of eight incredible women for their ‘No Ceilings’ campaign. She also starred in Ray-Ban’s Middle East campaign, “Tough as Leather”. In 2015, Amna signed a contract with Nike and has already been featured in a global campaign, “Better For It” as well as a documentary, “Inner Strength, Raising the Bar”, which for the very first time featured a woman. In 2016, she became the first Arab athlete invited to visit Nike HQ in Portland, Oregon to consult on challenges faced by Arab athletes and their needs, which then inspired the development of the Nike Pro Hijab. Amna has shared her story on CNN in hopes of inspiring more women to pursue their passion, whichever field that may be in. She was also featured in The Washington Post, New York Times and Forbes Middle East.
In 2016, she was awarded the Rosalynn Carter Journalism Fellowship for Mental Illness, in collaboration with Al Jalila Foundation, for the very first time to host the program in the UAE. Additionally, under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, she received the Arab Woman Award in Sports in 2016 her sporting achievements. And in the same year she has won the “Unstoppable Award as a Pioneer in Sports” by the 1st Femina Middle East Woman Awards.
Additionally, she was featured in a children’s book highlighting 100 inspirational women in the world, called Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, as the only UAE national to be featured. Amna holds a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism, with a minor in Psychology from the American University of Sharjah. She is currently writing a book to inspire a new generation of dreamers to follow their interests regardless of the barriers.
Amna Speaks about…
· From Depression to training for the Olympics: How to Go From 0 to Hero!
· Achieving Success and What True Success Is
· Embracing Change and Challenges in one’s Chosen Path
· Leading Yourself to Lead Others
· Training for the Olympics an Arab Muslim Female Weightlifter
· Storytelling for Kids, Inspiring the Younger Generation
· Start Before You Are Ready, Get Ahead
· Tackling Misconceptions about Male-Dominated Sports
· Dealing with Mental Health and Self-Care