IWF changes rules to accommodate Muslim clothing beliefs
Weightlifter Kulsoom Abdullah scored a victory for women and her faith today, with a decision by the IWF to allow Muslim women to wear more modest attire during U.S. competition.
Kulsoom Abdullah, a 35-year old female weightlifter, challenged the uniform rules of the International Weightlifting Federation, citing religious beliefs, and won.
Abdullah challenged the rule that required weightlifters to wear a “singlet” uniform in competition. Abdullah said that her Muslim beliefs do not allow her to wear the singlet, which would not cover enough of her body—basically everything but her hands and face.
"It's what I believe in. It's what I've chosen to do,"Abdullah told CNN earlier this month. "I've always dressed this way publicly," she said, referring to her modest dress.
Abdullah, who holds a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering, can deadlift 245 pounds and get up 105 pounds in the snatch (when the athlete takes the barbell from the floor to over her head in one motion). She typically competes in the 106-pound or 117-pound classifications. She says she simply enjoys competing in the sport.
"It guess it's empowering," she told CNN. "There's a lot of technique involved, so someone who's this big muscular person -- it's possible I could lift more than they do. There's speed and timing to it -- you have to be explosive. I think it's great just for confidence building ... I guess I got hooked."
Abdullah, who lives in Atlanta, wanted to take part in some tournaments governed by IWF rules, which require athletes to wear the standard singlet—officially referred to as “costumes”—which is collarless and does not cover the elbows or knees.