The XV Summer Paralympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016. Iran sent a delegation of 111 athletes (23 women and 88 men) that competed in 12 disciplines (Archery, Athletics, Canoe Sprint, Cycling Road, Football 5-a-side, Football 7-a-side, Judo, Powerlifting, Shooting, Sitting Volleyball, Swimming and Wheelchair Basketball).
Eshrat Kordestani, player of Iran women’s sitting volleyball team, was the delegation’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. Iran ranked 15th in Rio 2016, winning a total of 24 medals: 10 gold, 7 silver and 7 bronze. Sareh Javanmardi was the most succesful Iranian athlete in Rio 2016, winning two gold medals.
On September 17th, one day before the XV Summer Paralympics ended, the tragic death of Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad shocked everyone. He had sustained severe injuries to his neck in a serious crash that had happened during men’s C4/C5 road race. After receiving emergency treatment at the scene, he suffered a cardiac arrest while being transported to hospital. He later passed away in intensive care.
Flags were lowered to half-mast across the Paralympic Village and a minute of silence was held in memory of Bahman Golbanezhad at the men’s sitting volleyball final, one of the last events of the Games. The Iranian flag was flown at half mast at the final, while the Iranian team dedicated their gold medal to the memory of Golbanezhad. A minute of silence was also held during the closing ceremony of the Rio Paralympic Games as a tribute to Golbanezhad.
Golbarnezhad was born and raised in Abadan, Iran. During the Iran-Iraq war, he relocated to Shiraz. In 1988, he lost his lower left leg when he walked on a land mine. Three years after his injury, he started his professional sporting career first as a wrestler, then he turned to powerlifting, winning twelve gold medals and one silver medal, according to the Iranian Veterans and Disabled Sports Federation. He stopped weightlifting due to a shoulder injury and started cycling in 2002, winning bronze in C4 at the 2010 Asian Para Games. He qualified for 2012 London Paralympics the same year that his wife died due to cancer. Golbarnezhad and his wife had one son.
MEDAL COUNT & NEW RECORDS SET BY IRANIAN ATHLETES
PR: Paralympic Record / WR: World Record / FPR: Final Paralympic Record
Gold – Archery – Men’s Individual Recurve Open: Gholamreza Rahimi
Gold – Archery – Women’s Individual Recurve Open: Zahra Nemati
Gold – Athletics – Men’s Javelin Throw – F57: Mohammad Khalvandi – 46.12m WR
Gold – Powerlifting – Men’s 80kg: Majid Farzin – 240kg PR & WR
Gold – Powerlifting – Men’s +107kg: Siamand Rahman – 310kg PR & WR
Gold – Shooting – Mixed 50m pistol SH1: Sareh Javanmardi – 189.5 FPR
Gold – Shooting – Women’s 10m pistol SH1: Sareh Javanmardi – 193.4 FPR
Gold – Sitting Volleyball – Men’s: Meisam Ali Pour, Davoud Alipourian (c), Mahdi Babadi, Sadegh Bigdeli, Hossein Golestani, Arash Khormali, Majid Lashkarisanami, Mehrzad Mehravan, Morteza Mehrzadselakjani, Abolfazl Oliyaei, Ramezan Salehihajikolaei and Isa Zirahi. Coach: Hadi Rezaei.
Silver – Archery – Team recurve open: Zahra Nemati, Ebrahim Ranjbar
Silver – Athletics – Men’s Discus Throw F54/55/56: Alireza Ghaleh Naseri
Silver – Athletics – Men’s Javelin Throw – F13: Sajad Nikparast
Silver – Athletics – Men’s Javelin Throw – F57: Abdollah Heydari
Silver – Athletics – Men’s Shot Put – F12: Saman Pakbaz
Silver – Athletics – Men’s Shot Put – F42: Sajjad Mohammadian
Silver – Athletics – Men’s Shot Put – F54/55: Hamed Amiri – 11.40m WR (in F54)
Silver – Football – 5-a-side: Defenders (B1) Mohammad Heidari, Mohammadreza Mehninasab, Amir Pourrazavi and Ahmadreza Shahhosseini. Forwards (B1) Rasool Baseri, Sadegh Rahimighasr, Hossein Rajabpour (c) and Behzad Zadaliasghari. Goalkeepers (sighted) Meysam Shojaeiyan and Akbar Shoushtari. Coaches: Javad Felfeli and Mohammadreza Shaddel Basir.
Silver – Football – 7-a-side: Defenders: Lotfollah Jangjou, Mohammad Kharat, Rastegarimobin Hashem (c) and Hassan Safari. Midfielders: Moslem Akbari, Jasem Bakhshi, Sadegh Hassani Baghi, Mehdi Jamali, Farzad Mehri and Hossein Tiz Bor. Forwards: Rasoul Atashafrouz and Behnam Sohrabi. Goalkeepers: Khazaeipirsarabi Moslem and Babak Safarikourabbasloo. Coach: Amin Allahmani.
Bronze – Archery – Men’s Ind. Recurve Open: Ebrahim Ranjbar – 637 PR (72 arrw. rkg. rd)
Bronze – Athletics – Men’s 1500m T20: Peyman Nasiri Bazanjani
Bronze – Athletics – Men’s Javelin Throw – F34: Mohsen Kaedi
Bronze – Athletics – Men’s Javelin Throw – F38: Javad Hardani
Bronze – Athletics – Men’s Shot Put – F53: Asadollah Azimi
Bronze – Athletics – Men’s Shot Put – F56/57: Javid Ehsani Shakib
Bronze – Powerlifting – Men’s -107 kg: Ali Sadeghzadeh
The Iran men’s national sitting volleyball team is the most succesful team worldwide. Since their first appearance at the Summer Paralympics in 1988, they have always reached the finals, winning gold except in 2004 and 2012, when they won silver. Since 1984 they have placed among the best three at the World Championships, winning gold in 1984, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2010, silver in 2006 and bronze in 2002 and 2014.
The most succesful Iranians in the history of the Paralympics are athletes Ghader Modabber Raz and Mokhtar Nourafshan, followed by sitting volleyball player Ali Kashfia.
Ghader Modabber Raz competed in F51/F52 Men’s Discus Throw, Javelin Throw and Shot Put in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. He won a total of five gold and one bronze medals. Mokhtar Nourafshan competed in 1988, 1996, 2000 and 2004 in F53/F54/F55 Men’s Discus Throw, Javelin Throw and Shot Put, winning four gold, two silver and one bronze medals. Ali Kashfia represented Iran in men’s sitting volleyball at the Paralympics from 1988 to 2000, winning four gold medals.
Archer Zahra Nemati and shooter Sareh Javanmardi are Iran’s most succesful women. Nemati won twice gold, once silver and once bronze at the Paralympic Games in London 2012 and Rio 2016, while Javanmardi won two gold and one bronze medals .
Hadi Rezaei won three gold medals as a player at the men’s sitting volleyball event (1988, 1992, 1996) but added three gold (2000, 2008, 2016) and two silver medals (2004, 2012) as a coach.
Sources: Rio 2016 | Iran, Wikipedia | Iran at the 2016 Summer Paralympics, Wikipedia | Bahman Golbarnezhad, BBC | Bahman Golbarnezhad (in Persian), paralympic.org | Biographies, paralympic.org | Statement, The Guardian, news.xinhuanet.com, Young Journalists Club | Closing ceremony, Tasnim News Agency | Opening ceremony, Daily Mail | Opening ceremony, avax.news | Opening ceremony, The Baltimore Sun | Darkroom, paralympic.org | Historical results, Wikipedia | Iran men’s national sitting volleyball team,