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Arab weightlifter's Olympic dreams nurtured in Akron
Amna Al Haddad is one of the few Arab women in the sport, and one of the first to compete fully covered

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
Amna Al Haddad is a 26-year-old weightlifter from the United Arab Emirates who has spent two years training in Akron ahead of the 2016 Olympic qualifiers.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
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Amna Al Haddad is a pioneer in the sport of weightlifting. In 2012 she became the first Arab woman to compete in the Asian Crossfit regionals in Korea, and the first to do so wearing a hijab, or head scarf. 

She went on to compete in the Arnold games in Columbus where she met her Ohio coaches. The 26-year-old Emirati weightlifter has spent the past two years in Akron training for the 2016 Olympic qualifiers.

LISTEN: Amna Al Haddad Emirati weightlifter

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Amna Al Haddad is a weightlifter from the United Arab Emirates who for the past two years has been training in Akron for the 2016 Olympic qualifiers held in April.  

Al Haddad says she hasn't experienced any discrimination from Akronites during her time here. She says Midwesterners are typically very friendly and hospitable.

Al Haddad says she doesn't pay much attention to the anti-muslim political rhetoric surrounding this year's presidential campaign. 

"There will always be things that divide people - religion, culture, color," but she says, "the one thing that does not divide people is sports."

"Sports bring us together," says Al Haddad, "and if we focus on being together in that sense and the commonalities that we have instead of our differences, all of these issues will dissolve." 

(Click image for larger view.)

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