Lifting Boundaries

By Kulsoom Abdullah

In Competition, CrossFit, HD Videos, Olympic Lifts

December 26, 2011

Video Article

Kulsoom Abdullah is a CrossFitter and Olympic-weightlifting competitor who is breaking social constructions.

To enter the U.S.A. National and American Open, the required attire is a singlet. According to her religious beliefs, Abdullah wears a traditional outfit including headscarf, so she inadvertently found herself standing up for her religious rights. Her plight became a human-rights case that created a media frenzy over Olympic-weightlifting standards for attire.

“The idea of the Olympics is you want to include as many people as you can,” she says. “I didn’t know my situation was that big.”

Abdullah submitted a presentation to the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) on alternative dress codes, and the IWF ruled in her favor.

Abdullah’s case has also won her public and financial support for her competitions. In addition to being funded at the nationals and the worlds, Abdullah was even accepted into the Pakistan Weightlifting Federation as the first woman on their team and competed for them in the 2011 World Weightlifting Championships.

Abdullah is happy with her success and says she felt obligated to speak up for those who couldn’t.

“Not everyone is going to have this opportunity,” she says. “I should keep sharing my story, and if it’s gonna help with the global issues and other women, I should just keep doing it.”

7min 49sec

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SD wmv file size: 93.7 MB
SD mov file size: 85.3 MB

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Additional reading: New Friends by Mike Warkentin, published Oct. 4, 2010.

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Comment

42 Comments on “Lifting Boundaries”

1

wrote …

Did I see you in Mobile, AL in December?

2

wrote …

That's awesome! I had lost track of how this was progressing. It's good to see you are able to compete. Your courage is sure to inspire others to keep their modesty in a culture that makes it difficult. Also, to hell with georgia!

3

wrote …

Kulsoom, congratulations! Keep at it and inspire others along the way!

4

wrote …

Lame.

5

wrote …

Lame.

6

wrote …

Awesome.

7

Dan MacDougald wrote …

Great story, great video.

8

wrote …

Developed a talent in one country but representing another. In England with cricket we get that a lot. The amount of talent we've happily poached that has been nurtured in other countries over the years is quite high. Shines a light often though on the lack of talent a country has developed itself. Also, it provides an opportunity for an athlete who may not be good enough to represent their country of birth but is capable for their parents/grandparents homeland. Always a hot debate to be had when dual nationality comes into sporting representation. Best of luck with the future and an interesting video that seems quite left field for CrossFit so new territories being explored.

9

wrote …

Would love to see the original presentation made to USOC/IOC/USAW.

10

wrote …

This is stupid. If you want to compete you should have to conform to the standards. There are reason you are required to wear that type of singlet. Just like if you want to follow a certain religion (IE Islam) you have to wear certain stuff... either do it or don't. But don't try to change everything just so it suits your needs.

Why not change your interpretation of the religion, that way you can wear the proper attire? Why does weightlifting have to conform to YOU. Definitely don't agree with this and wish I never watched it.

11

wrote …

As long as there are no safety compromises or competitive advantage gained I have no problem with this. Why should a whole class of people be barred from competition because of a meaningless, arbitrary dress code?

12

wrote …

shane, she is conforming to the standards. she got them changed because they could be changed without affecting anybody. you must be mad about something else because it certainly doesn't affect you.

13

wrote …

and the reason for the dress code was so that the judges can verify locked out knees and arms. the changed standard allows for this so everybody is happy. reasonable, right?

14

wrote …

This girl should not be attacked for her beliefs. She wants to compete and has followed protocol to try and conform to competition standards. For those of you who are angry about this, please take it up with competition authorities and not single out individuals.

15

wrote …

AWESOME.You Rock!

16

wrote …

Progress, LOVE it!
It is indeed a big world out there. Perhaps through sport we can learn about each other as the individuals that we are instead of the stereotypes that we experience through commercial media and politics!
I'm just sayin'.

17

wrote …

OUTSTANDING!!!! You should be applauded for your perseverance and accomplishments. Very respectable.

18

wrote …

Fantastic!! I admire your determination and courage. Hope to see more of this in the future.

19

wrote …

Can you make this free please?

20

wrote …

Bravo for the International Weightlifting Federation on their broadminded decision!

That was a Yuri(k) Vardanian styled jerk, I saw in some of those pictures. He was a Soviet lifter in the 80's. Look him up. That's not a bad example to follow!

21

wrote …

As with everything else in the west we conform to others standards and needs: from dress, to language.
Why should sport be different. I find it interesting that a Muslim woman would be so progressive to wieghtlift, but
she cannot lose the gender repressive garb. Interesting. I'd like to see a western woman
venture outdoors in an Islamic nation with less than a full head to toe covering. Seen it and it's not recieved as well, trust me.
But alas, enjoy your freedom, your weightlifting and your double standard.

Drew.

22

wrote …

The British army -- which knows a thing or two about conforming to standards -- has permitted Sikhs to wear turbans as part of their uniforms for over 100 years.

There have been turbaned Royal Canadian Mounted Police since the 1980's.

Neither institution has collapsed.

23

wrote …

This is a great story. Wish you the best in your endeavors.

24

wrote …

As a Christian I feel compelled to applaud anyone who stands up for their religious convictions, no matter how insignificant they may seem to non believers.

However, also as a Christian I have to say I pray for the day when all Muslims care as much about ALL religions freedoms as they obviously do of their own.

25

replied to comment from David Johns

Well put David.

26

replied to comment from Ryan Tyler

Ryan, the thing that bothers me is more the fact that people want everything to be changed for them, but rarely do you see people changing for the standards already in place, it has nothing to do with religion. To me this is pretty selfish thinking. Do you see what I am saying?

27

replied to comment from Mel Evenson

Exactly, why should they not compete because of an arbitrary dress code..... (ie full coverage)....

28

wrote …

shane, no. like i said, nobody has to do anything and nobody will be disadvantaged due to this change. also, its her religion. its not like she wants to wear jewelery or something trivial. watch the video. she even went to great lengths to develop different ideas of acceptable alternatives to the singlet. maybe you are lumping this in with whatever you're talking about when you say "people want everything to be changed for them" but it certainly doesn't apply to this situation

29

replied to comment from Drew A.

"I'd like to see a western woman
venture outdoors in an Islamic nation with less than a full head to toe covering. Seen it and it's not recieved as well, trust me.
But alas, enjoy your freedom, your weightlifting and your double standard."


You realize this is why the 'West' is considered better and more appealing (more 'open') than restrictive nations? We support people's differences and their right to choose. It's not flawless, but you can be different and, if you are tolerant, still be welcomed. (Rick Perry can F off.)


Ryan Tyler,

I agree. She took fairly reasonable steps to be included without detracting from both the event or other competitors. She is rightfully being applauded. She even mentions that she did not have athletic female role models to look up to. If anything, more publicity and women like her will help the aforementioned nations realize that women are (equal) people too.

30

wrote …

I would back the IWF either way, so long as the decision was made without fear, bias, or political pressure.

That is to say, if the IWF were to decide against the bending of the rules, I would not cry foul. It is the right of that body to decide what is fair and acceptable for a sanctioned meet and the athlete's right to decide if they can abide by them or not.

This wasn't some kind of Rosa Parks moment: one person courageously standing up against structural prejudice. It was just an equitable resolution of a special case that the rules didn't explicitly account for.

I'm just glad this wasn't about a committed nudist...

31

replied to comment from Kevin B Sandberg

That's the things, why should it be any different if it was a nudist? A belief is a belief.

32

wrote …

I would love to see a post on here about how muslim crossfiters/weightlifters adjust their training and nutrition programme during the holy month of Ramadan

33

replied to comment from Samir Oukili

I think kulsoom just took it easy. I'm almost positive she still came in.

34

wrote …

dumb

35

wrote …

Kulsoom is having some problems posting so she asked me to post this:

First, I wanted to say thanks to target="_blank">Mike (http://kozproductions.com/) for this
production, I really like this video. I think he did a great job in
sharing my story.

Here is a blog post I have written about it (on my website@ href="http://www.liftingcovered.com/"
target="_blank">
http://www.liftingcovered.com/) and the behind the
scenes:
target="_blank">
http://www.liftingcovered.com/crossfit-journal-video-shoulder-rehab-training/

The link to target="_blank">this video on youtube:

http://youtu.be/Y0-YlZw1kJ0?hd=1 (I also have the video embedded
within the blog post, in the link above)

To everyone, thanks for your support and encouragement. I appreciate
it a lot. I am glad I am able to compete and my appeal was taken into
consideration and accepted. I hope sports is one way we can all get
together, and this will include others who normally would not have
participated in the sport.

@Kelly, yes, that was me at the 2011 American Open.  I wrote a blog
post with some pictures here:

target="_blank">http://www.liftingcovered.com/american-open-2011-and-going-forward/

@Dan McD - Thanks! FYI, he is the owner of my gym ( href="CrossfitAtlanta.com" target="_blank">CrossfitAtlanta.com)
and known as the godfather of crossfit in Georgia.

@Sean - yes, I am not at the top of the ranks in weightlifting. I hope
representing Pakistan gets something started, encourages more women to
start this there (and other countries), or another sport, and they are
all going to get medals one day!

@Jeff - here is the presentation that I gave to the USOC:
target="_blank"> http://www.liftingcovered.com/presentation-video/
(video is embedded)
I made a presentation in Keynote (similar to Powerpoint but an OSX/MAC
software), then recorded a voice over and ported it to video. This
video was passed to the IWF.

@Samir - Ryan is correct, I trained during Ramadan (he also goes to my
gym, target="_blank">crossfit Atlanta, but he is a morning person, I go
in the evenings).
Here is a blog post I have written about that:
target="_blank">
http://www.liftingcovered.com/ramadan-fasting-weightlifting-20111432ah/

Kulsoom

Twitter  target="_blank">@liftingcovered
Website 
target="_blank">liftingcovered.com

36

Kulsoom Abdullah wrote …

Thanks Ryan

37

Kulsoom Abdullah wrote …

Same post but pasting the HTML only:

Hi Everyone,


First, I wanted to say thanks to Mike (http://kozproductions.com/) for this production, I really like this video. I think he did a great job in sharing my story.


Here is a blog post I have written about it (on my website@http://www.liftingcovered.com/) and the behind the scenes:
http://www.liftingcovered.com/crossfit-journal-video-shoulder-rehab-training/


The link to this video on youtube:
http://youtu.be/Y0-YlZw1kJ0?hd=1 (I also have the video embedded within the blog post, in the link above)


To everyone, thanks for your support and encouragement. I appreciate it a lot. I am glad I am able to compete and my appeal was taken into consideration and accepted. I hope sports is one way we can all get together, and this will include others who normally would not have participated in the sport.


@Kelly, yes, that was me at the 2011 American Open.  I wrote a blog post with some pictures here:


http://www.liftingcovered.com/american-open-2011-and-going-forward/


@Dan McD - Thanks! FYI, he is the owner of my gym (CrossfitAtlanta.com) and known as the godfather of crossfit in Georgia.


@Sean - yes, I am not at the top of the ranks in weightlifting. I hope representing Pakistan gets something started, encourages more women to start this there (and other countries), or another sport, and they are all going to get medals one day!


@Jeff - here is the presentation that I gave to the USOC:
http://www.liftingcovered.com/presentation-video/ (video is embedded)
I made a presentation in Keynote (similar to Powerpoint but an OSX/MAC software), then recorded a voice over and ported it to video. This video was passed to the IWF.


@Samir - Ryan is correct, I trained during Ramadan (he also goes to my gym, crossfit Atlanta, but he is a morning person, I go in the evenings).
Here is a blog post I have written about that:
http://www.liftingcovered.com/ramadan-fasting-weightlifting-20111432ah/


Kulsoom


Twitter @liftingcovered
Website liftingcovered.com

38

wrote …

One more try

Hi Everyone,


First, I wanted to say thanks to Mike (http://kozproductions.com/) for this production, I really like this video. I think he did a great job in sharing my story.


Here is a blog post I have written about it (on my website@http://www.liftingcovered.com/) and the behind the scenes:
http://www.liftingcovered.com/crossfit-journal-video-shoulder-rehab-training/


The link to this video on youtube:
http://youtu.be/Y0-YlZw1kJ0?hd=1 (I also have the video embedded within the blog post, in the link above)


To everyone, thanks for your support and encouragement. I appreciate it a lot. I am glad I am able to compete and my appeal was taken into consideration and accepted. I hope sports is one way we can all get together, and this will include others who normally would not have participated in the sport.


@Kelly, yes, that was me at the 2011 American Open.  I wrote a blog post with some pictures here:


http://www.liftingcovered.com/american-open-2011-and-going-forward/


@Dan McD - Thanks! FYI, he is the owner of my gym (CrossfitAtlanta.com) and known as the godfather of crossfit in Georgia.


@Sean - yes, I am not at the top of the ranks in weightlifting. I hope representing Pakistan gets something started, encourages more women to start this there (and other countries), or another sport, and they are all going to get medals one day!


@Jeff - here is the presentation that I gave to the USOC:
http://www.liftingcovered.com/presentation-video/ (video is embedded)
I made a presentation in Keynote (similar to Powerpoint but an OSX/MAC software), then recorded a voice over and ported it to video. This video was passed to the IWF.


@Samir - Ryan is correct, I trained during Ramadan (he also goes to my gym, crossfit Atlanta, but he is a morning person, I go in the evenings).
Here is a blog post I have written about that:
http://www.liftingcovered.com/ramadan-fasting-weightlifting-20111432ah/


Kulsoom


Twitter @liftingcovered
Website liftingcovered.com

39

wrote …

@J.S... That's for you quote. It was great

40

replied to comment from David Johns

David, it's not about when the "Fill in the group name here" will change - all of the "fill in the group name here" groups have gaping holes in their logic and consistency. Especially mine.

I really like your comment Daniel, thanks. Regretting now I didn't catch this one the first time.

What a gutsy athlete this young lady is!!

41

wrote …

This lady is Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

42

wrote …

I don't like her because she snatches more than me....I KID I KID but I digress. The lady just wants to compete. If the the federation will allow the change in the rules then so be it. Hell they couldve said no, but they didn't so as long as she is in full lockout...screw it. Leagues/Associations/Federations and Councils are always changing rules and regulations for this that or the other. Remember Old timey boxing...yup.

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