Female Weightlifter wins right to wear hijab

Kulsoom Abdullah, a 35-year old female weightlifter from Atlanta, Georgia, received long-awaited word from the International Weightlifting Federation that she would be allowed to compete in a modified weightlifting uniform that complied with the hijab and her faith.

For the past year, Ms. Abdullah has been working to be allowed to compete in the sport she loves without conceding her religious values. And with persistence, tenacity, and faith, she was able to see her ambitious efforts pay off.

“This is a great victory. I am hopeful for more participation in sports for women and I have a positive outlook on getting costume details finalized for Olympic lifting competitions,” said Ms. Abdullah. “Change is not going to happen if you do nothing. It’s better to at least try your best … I think we always learn through journey and struggles.”

Last year, Ms. Abdullah was initially barred from competing in the American Open because she would not wear a singlet – the short, tight, regulation uniform. Officials told her that loose clothing and covered limbs presented a safety hazard and prevented judges from making sure she was executing a proper lift.
Ms. Abdullah then put together a 44-page presentation offering an alternative costume that showcased her elbows and knees without compromising her Muslim faith.

Her proposal was submitted to the IWF to consider a policy change for Islamic attire with the support of the United States Olympic Committee, the USA Weightlifting Federation, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.