Amna Al Haddad hates leaving anything to chance, but there isn’t much the feisty Emirati weightlifter can do about her current predicament, though. Hoping to move her Olympic preparations to the next level, Amna’s road to Rio 2016 has hit a financial roadblock that has left her wondering if she will even be able to take part in international events leading up to the Olympic qualification tournament at the end of this year.
The 24-year-old returned from the US after taking part in Arnold Sports Festival, named after Arnold Schwarzenegger and featuring 45 different sports, involving 18,000 athletes in Columbus, Ohio. Amna was among 106 world class athletes in the Arnold’s Weightlifting Championship and despite suffering a bout of food poisoning, managed to finish in the top half and improve on her previous best.
“Prior to competition day, I ate something that did not go down well with my system. Despite that and not having a coach, I managed to improve my previous best and finish in the top half,” she told XPRESS.
The Emirati girl revealed that it was only possible to go for this event because she had some funds left, something that will also just about take care of her trip to Thailand on May 2. “I am desperately looking for sponsors for funding the forthcoming events in Germany in May-end and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in July-August as well as the Incheon Asian Games in September. That will take me to the IWF Worlds at the end of the year which is the Olympic qualifiers,” she said.
Amna has launched a 40-day crowd funding campaign. At the time of going to press, there were 17 days left and she had managed to get Dh7,500, way short of her expectation of $50,000. “Honestly, I am a bit disappointed at the response. I have no idea why I have not been able to raise more. I mean I am a path-breaking Emirati woman looking to put UAE on the world map in women’s weightlifting and nobody wants to support me. The companies say they don’t want to sponsor an individual athlete. I don’t know what that means. I am more of a role model that any male athlete in this country. I am involved with the community and motivate students in schools by speaking about my experiences. I believe I should be taken more seriously,” she said.
Following her US trip, Amna was greeted to more bad news. “My father underwent surgery and my training went haywire. It is very difficult to wake up, go to the gym and train not knowing if I will even make it to the next event. Instead of just concentrating on improving my lifts, here I am running around for sponsors. The only reason I am still at it because I believe I have the ability to compete at the Olympics,” she said.
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