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Attending the 2011 IWF World Championships

Moment of the Year by Kulsoom Abdullah

People asked me what the experience was like?

My weightlifting journey started by myself, I was determined to build strength. I did what I could do on my own, finding information on the Internet, such as resources for women’s weightlifting without a traditional commercial gym bias. I could not go heavy, drop weights, or use chalk, let alone, learn how to clean and jerk. Completing my graduate studies, I needed to find a gym outside of my university. I ultimately did find a gym (Crossfit Atlanta) that had weightlifters teaching the Olympic lifts, so I gained support, no longer alone in my efforts. It took over 2 years of training and encouragement from my trainers, because I thought I was not good or strong enough, till I finally had the confidence to compete. My next personal struggle, after achieving a qualifying total, was attending national meets in religious covering. After the IWF ruling and attending national qualifying meets, I learned more about the sport and met other weightlifters in the USA. This led to my memorable experience: attending the 2011 World Weightlifting Championships.

There I observed and experienced the different facets of the sport. It is not just about who lifts the most and wins, though the medalists are to be commended for their time, efforts and success. I felt the energy of the audience cheering for the athletes, from their home country or their competitors, who vicariously felt their success and disappointments.

Meeting people from so many countries was a great experience. Though a competition, everyone was friendly and encouraging – coaches, athletes, officials and spectators. People from different countries/teams interacted like old friends.

People asked me what the experience was like? How much do the other ladies lift? Everyone is surprised and very few realize the magnitude achieved. Many have a stereotype of a weightlifter’s appearance. Brute strength is not only involved – skill, speed and power is also required to defy gravity on the platform.

I hope to continue relaying the spirit of sporting competition to others, encouraging them that when one puts time and effort, regardless of who you are, what you can do is beyond expectations.

Kulsoom Abdullah

Kulsoom Abdullah is a Pakistani-American computer engineer (she finished her PhD in Electrical/Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta), who has been training weightlifting for three years. Kulsoom first attended World Championships in Paris in 2011.

Send your Most Memorable Moment of 2011 to Dezso Dobor, IWF Media Officer ( or the IWF Secretariat in order to be published!