By Gureni Lukwaro
For weightlifter and AUS alumna Amna Al Haddad, representing the UAE at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil would be a dream come true. To make that happen, she has started a crowdfunding campaign to raise financial support for her training and travel.
“Finding financial support and sponsors for my sport has been a very big challenge. Therefore, I have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Aflamnah website (http://bit.ly/Ot1At3) to raise funds for my 2016 Rio Olympics program, and I am inviting people to contribute and be part of my journey. This year is a very crucial year for me to make it to the Olympics due to the International Weightlifting Federation's world championships, which are Olympic qualifying events, in November. The support I require will go toward training camps, major competitions, physical therapy and supplementation,” Al Haddad said. “To accomplish all that, I need to raise lots of money, but from this crowdfunding campaign, I need to raise about US $50,000 (AED 182,500). So far, I have raised about US $2,000 (AED 7,200) with 19 days left for the campaign. The amount will cover about a quarter of the total I need.”
Amna Al Haddad starting her pull under the bar in the Snatch movement during the recent competition she took part in the United States of America. (Photo by Nat Arem from Hookgrip)
Al Haddad, a 24-year-old UAE national, graduated from AUS with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication–Journalism and a minor in psychology in Fall 2010. She previously worked as a journalist for The National newspaper, but has quit her job to pursue weightlifting full time.
“I have just come back from my first competition this year, the Arnold Weightlifting Championships, an international event held in Columbus, Ohio, USA, from February 28 to March 2, 2014. This was another milestone in my journey and definitely a step forward with an improvement from previous performances. This event was joined by Olympians and world champions in the sport of weightlifting, and competing alongside them was a great experience.”
The Arnold Weightlifting Championships is one of the International Weightlifting Federation's leading competitions. World-record holders from Bulgaria, the United States, Great Britain, Russia, China, Pacific Islands and Armenia have competed in Columbus since 2003 for numerous prizes, scholarships and cash.
The expenses for her trip to Columbus and to the next competition, which will be held in Thailand May 2–10, 2014, has been supported by an anonymous sponsor. She has also recently signed an endorsement agreement with PurePharma that will supply her with essential and basic supplements for athletes, such as magnesium, fish oil and Vitamin D.
"I currently train anywhere between three to four hours every day with a possible increase in my training volume very soon. All this is in the hopes that I make it to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Everything in my life has taken a backseat. Representing the UAE at the international stage, and Inshallah, the Olympic stage, will be a great honor and a pride for the country."
In 2012, Al Haddad became the first UAE and GCC female national to compete in the Reebok Crossfit Games Open and was ranked 77 out of 170 women in Asia. She qualified to compete with a team in the Asia Regionals, in South Korea in the same year, being the first UAE and GCC national to compete in the Asia Regionals and the only Muslim woman to do so in a headscarf.
"Those who contribute to my crowdfunding project actually act as sponsors or donors. Contributions start at as little as US $10 (AED 36) and for each level of contribution there is a reward in return such as social media mention, website mention press release mention, and signed photos, among others. The contributor can also choose to remain anonymous," she said.
Al Haddad can be followed on her website, www.999fitness.ae.
Gureni Lukwaro is a Writer, Editor and Social Media Specialist at the American University of Sharjah.