Weightlifter Kulsoom Abdullah was on the brink of qualifying for the American Open tournament last year when she was eliminated. It was not her training regimen, muscle strength or weight that kept her from competing. It was her clothes.
After qualifying for a national tournament, the computer engineer with a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech and a black belt in taekwondo was told she could not compete because the modest athletic attire she wears might be dangerous or give her an unfair advantage because the long-sleeved garment would prevent judges from seeing if her elbows were locked.
With help from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ms. Abdullah waged a personal crusade with both the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Weighlifting to push reform of the uniform law. As a result, on July 15, 2011, Ms. Abdullah became the first Muslim woman to compete in America's most prestigious weightlifting competition -- the USA National Weightlifting Championships -- while wearing clothing that covered her legs, arms and head.