The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven says Iran’s National Paralympic Committee should be congratulated for what it has done to increase female participation.
The Iranian National Paralympic Committee arranged for Sir Philip to meet with the Iranian Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Masoud Soltanifar in Tehran on Wednesday.
Later that day he attended a meeting of the National Paralympic Committee’s Governing Board and delivered a 30-minute address to officials and athletes on the progress the Paralympic Movement has made during his time as IPC President.
“I first visited this country in 1995 when I was President of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation. I was impressed with what I experienced back then and have been equally impressed on each of my return visits,” said Craven.
“Today, the National Paralympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the leading Para sport nations in Asia and is a National Paralympic Committee that is greatly respected around the world.
“Iran now boasts some of the biggest global stars in Paralympic sport; the performances of powerlifter Siamand Rahman, archer Zahra Nemati, shooter Sareh Javanmardi and sitting volleyball player Morteza Mehrzad amongst others at Rio 2016 made global headlines."
“Such is Iran’s progress in recent years that I would not be surprised if the country broke into the top 10 of the medals table at Tokyo 2020 or in 2024,” added Sir Philip who met a number of Iran’s Paralympians from last September’s Games.
Sir Philip, who will step down as IPC President on 8 September, also praised the work of NPC Iran in increasing female participation.
“In addition to the progress Iran has made in producing medal winning athletes, I also think the National Paralympic Committee should be congratulated for what it has done to increase female participation,” he said.
“At the Seoul 1988 Paralympics the Iranian team featured 36 men and no women. Compare this with Rio 2016 where the team featured 23 women, the sum of the last five Games from 1996 to 2012 combined.”
On Thursday morning, the IPC President officially opened the third National Para Athletics Championships which this year has attracted more than 700 Para athletes from Iran’s 29 provinces.
In Shiraz on Friday, Sir Philip met the family of Para cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad before paying his respects at the athlete’s tomb. Golbarnezhad died in a tragic accident during the Para cycling road race on the penultimate day of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Paralympic.org reported.
Sir Philip’s visit to Iran will conclude on Monday and over the weekend he will visit a new Paralympic sport complex and meet a number of Paralympians.