Kulsoom Abdullah, who was born in 1976, became the first female weightlifter from Pakistan when she competed at the 2011 World Championships. The same year, she also made history when, in keeping with her religious views, she became the first women to compete completely covered after the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) modified its rules to accommodate her request to do so.
She is ethnic Pashtun and speaks Pashto as her first language. She received a bachelor degree in computer engineering from the University of Central Florida and a doctorate in electrical / computer engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Kulsoom launched LiftingCovered.com to document her experiences weightlifting in an effort to compete at U.S. national competitions. She has competed at her first U.S. national competition in Iowa in July 2011. By advocating for the ability to compete in clothing that adheres to religious codes she opened the door for women from cultures all over the world to compete.
Her athletic feats and determination culminated in an invitation to deliver remarks following Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the U.S. State Department at the Eid ul Fitr reception 2011.
At the International level, she represented Pakistan as the first female and first at the international level to compete wearing hijab at the 2011 World Weightlifting Championships. In 2012 she competed at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in South Korea. Since 2013, she has taken a break from major competitions but continues to train. She is one of four women in The Pakistan Four short documentary.
Kulsoom currently is a visiting scholar at Georgia Tech in information visualization of network security data, and consulting at Georgia State in understanding the role of technology in CSEM, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Minors using data science and machine learning.