Atlanta, GA (PressExposure) June 06, 2011 -- USA Weightlifting will not allow Kulsoom Abdullah, a Muslim woman, from competing in national weightlifting events solely because of the uniform requirement. The required singlet costume (a one piece, skin-tight, sleeveless, and cut above the knee outfit) is against her chosen Islamic modest dress requirements. She has dressed, showing only hands and feet, at various local competitions. She proposed an alternative uniform, but USA Weightlifting has rejected her plea to compete at nationals without any discussion on the issue.
Abdullah first started training in Olympic Lifting via Crossfit programming. With encouragement from her trainers, she began competing at local open weightlifting competitions in 2010 in the 48kg and 53kg weight class women's senior division.
Abdullah qualified for her first national level competition in 2010 for the American Open (December 2010). A request on the behalf of her coaches was sent to members of the USA Weightlifting Technical committee to work on getting a competition uniform approved that would be compliant to her religious needs and not give her an advantage over other competitors. This was rejected, as well as allowing her to participate unofficially.
Because of this, Abdullah did not attend. She still continued to persevere and train 5 to 6 days a week. She wishes to compete at the national level in Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 15-17, 2011 for the USA Weightlifting Senior Nationals.
Another request was sent March 2011, but again this was rejected by USA Weightlifting, stating that the technical rules of the International Weightlifting Federation are followed, and therefore, her requests will not be honored.
Abdullah has decided to pursue this matter on her 1st amendment rights. The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act does mention religious accommodations and she hopes that it would encourage other women to participate in the sport. She also hopes to get this topic international recognition.
Former trainer, Jason Bourgeois (2010 World University Games Team member) who is currently studying Intellectual Property at Tulane Law School says "The spirit of the Olympic tradition was intended to reach across cultural, religious and political boundaries. As part of that Olympic tradition, United States Weightlifting should allow athletes competing under their banner the opportunity to represent themselves in a way that is consistent with their most deeply held beliefs."
Abdullah enjoys lifting as exercise and sport. She feels its technically challenging and empowering. "I have always been interested in challenging myself in strength. When I found out about Olympic lifting I was hooked as it also incorporates speed, power, balance and flexibility. I appreciate the discipline and hard work it takes to improve. I hope I will be able to compete with others in spite of the difference in my religious requirements. Islam is not the only religion (or its cultures) in which people might have a different dress, so I hope it can help others participate that normally would not."
For more information, press only:
Kulsoom Abdullah, 404-642-1208, http://liftingcovered.com/