Kansas City, Missouri
Kulsoom Abdullah (born 1976) is a Pakistani-American weightlifter who became the first female weightlifter representing Pakistan when she competed at the 2011 World Championships. The same year she made history when, in keeping with her religious views, she became the first woman to compete completely covered after the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) modified its rules to accommodate her request to do so.
Kulsoom Abdullah was born in Kansas City, Missouri and grew up in Okeechobee, Florida. She frequently visited Pakistan while growing up and speaks Pashto. She has a Master's degree and PhD in electrical and computer engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She began weightlifting while she was a graduate student as a training method for taekwondo. After being denied the right to compete in an IWF competition in modest clothing, USA Weightlifting CEO, John Duff, helped to persuade the IWF to allow Abdullah to participate by modifying their regulations to allow her to compete with her head, arms, and legs covered. In a 2011 article, Abdullah stated, "in a contemplative world, we would think about how to come up with attire that would bring out the best in all competitors, regardless what their religious or personal level of modesty is. This is not a beauty contest, not a religious litmus test." International rules originally required the arms and legs of competitors to be bare so that judges could determine when a lift was successful.
Abdullah was featured in the documentary The Pakistan Four: Four strangers in America redefining the narrative of being a Pakistani Muslim woman, released in 2014. The film also features Hareem Ahmad, saber fencer, Nadia Manzoor, stand-up comic, and chef Fatima Ali.
- Kulsoom Abdullah Crossfit Journal 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2014
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- "Female Muslim weightlifter competes in covering". ESPN.com. 16 July 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
- msnbc.com, Kari Huus Reporter (2011-06-30). "Muslim weightlifter fights to compete, hijabi-style". msnbc.com. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
- Magazine, Brown Girl (2014-05-12). "The Pakistan Four". Brown Girl Magazine. Retrieved 2019-03-29.