With top-notch Paralympic and World champions in their ranks, Team I.R. Iran would be looking to improve their position on the medal standings as they prepare to field one of their biggest delegations at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
As many as 95 athletes have already secured their qualification for Tokyo 2020. At Rio 2016, Iran had sent 110 athletes, their biggest contingent so far at the Paralympics. The team had then finished in 15th on the medals table with 23 medals including, eight golds.
NPC I. R. Iran Chef de Mission, Hadi Rezaei exuded confidence of a good show from his team and said: “The NPC I. R. Iran's long list of athletes includes 95 in 10 sports: archery, athletics, canoe sprint, cycling track, judo, powerlifting, shooting, sitting volleyball, taekwondo and wheelchair basketball. The final name list will be published in due course.
“At Tokyo, we expect to improve our place on the medals table. We have a lot of athletes who have the chance of winning medals and I assume we will hear good news from Iranian athletes. We expect to be champion in sitting volleyball like previous six editions of the Games.”
With six Paralympic titles to their name, Iran’s men’s team led by their star player Morteza Mehrzadselakjani will clearly be the title favourites in sitting volleyball.
Mehrzadselakjani commented: “Despite the outbreak of COVID-19 and its undeniable damaging impacts on the world, including the realm of Para sport, we worked hard and never let COVID-19 defeat us! We are the winners of the pandemic and will prove it by defending our title in Tokyo 2020.”
Two-time Paralympic gold medallist Zahra Nemati and silver medallist shot put F11 at the 2018 Asian Para Games Nour Mohammad Arekhi have been named as Iran’s flagbearers in Tokyo.
While the NPC Iran will also rely on their athletes in Para athletics and Para powerlifting to bring home laurels, including Nemati and Rahimi Gholamreza (archery), and Sareh Javanmardi (shooting Para sport) who are out to defend their titles.
“Like any other athlete, improving performance, defending the title with the best results are definitely my target in Tokyo,” Javanmardi said.
“I will do my best. I assume the situation around the globe is the same for all athletes participating in the upcoming Games. So, I am not worried about defending my title,” said Javanmardi, who struck twin gold medals in women's 10 m air pistol SH1 (P2) and mixed 50 m pistol SH1 (P4) events at Rio 2016.
Iran will also field four athletes in Para taekwondo, the sport that will make its debut alongwith Para badminton at these Games. “We look forward to obtaining more medals in other sports and gaining the best result ever compared to the previous editions of the Games.”
Despite the ongoing Pandemic, Rezaei said their athletes have attended regular training camps and worked very hard.
“Be rest assured that all our athletes will attend the Games in full preparation. Our athletes believe that nothing can stop them from achieving medals and reaching outstanding results in Tokyo 2020.”