The main change which Morteza Mehrzad has seen since he started sitting volleyball is that people no longer consider him just a tall man.
“Now, they consider me as a Paralympian,” Mehrzad, who is the Paralympic's tallest ever competitor, said.
The 29-year-old played a key role in helping Iran reclaim the gold medal, beating 2012 champion Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1 in the finals. The 2.46m was the top scorer with 28 points in that gold medal match.
“Everyone expected us to win gold, they expect in every event we should be the best, but reality has another face as other teams are so qualified,” Mehrzad told parlaympic.org. “The Paralympic Games are the place for the best. All athletes appeared so well, especially our team.”
Having only joined the national squad in May last year, Mehrzad is somewhat of a newcomer to the sport.
“The Intercontinental Cup in China was the first international tournament which I’ve experienced in my life,” he said.
However he quickly bonded with his new team mates, who have helped Mehrzad prepare for what was to come.
“After every training session we talked about London and everything that happened. I think this helped me so much to understand the Paralympic atmosphere. We all helped and guided each other and I extend my gratitude to them,” Mehrzad said.
When asked whether it was too soon to think about Tokyo 2020, Mehrzad said: “From the moment of coming down from the podium in Rio, we should be thinking about Tokyo.”
Mehrzad is also bothered by the public’s new found attention: “I am not the whole team, I am only taller than the others.”
Iran has won either gold or silver in every edition of the Paralympics since 1988, and with a team mixed with returning and newcomers at Rio, they are expected to continue their competitiveness.
“You cannot succeed by staying at home. Forget the past, think about the future and the promised days,” he added.