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Iran is forever in the news, whether for its bold statements on the West or its tête-à-tête with Israel. By courtesy of the Iranian Olympians, Iran is in the news for positive reasons right now. One should put aside the pre-Olympics hype over whether Iranian Olympians will face their arch rivals from Israel or not and focus on the contributions their athletes made to the spirit of the 2012 Olympics.
The country current ranks at 12th place in the Olympic table with a total of eight medals: four golds, three silvers, and one bronze. To celebrate their country’s accolades in Olympics, Iranians took to social networking sites to express their joy. One could argue that this Olympics has indeed exposed a rare side of Iran to the global audience.
Iran has participated in the Olympics since the 1948 London Games. This year, 45 men and eight women are participating from Iran in the London 2012 Olympics. However, this is the first time that Iran has won medals in athletic categories and their first-ever gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling. Twenty-five-year-old Neda Shahsavari also made a history by becoming the first Iranian woman to qualify for women’s table tennis. Tuesday, August 7, was especially jubilant for Iranians as their Olympians won two gold and two silver medals.
Twenty-two-year-old Behdad Salimikordasiabi was bestowed with the title of strongest man after winning the gold medal on Tuesday in the 105kg weightlifting competition. Salimi said in a statement, “In Iran I know they’re all partying in the street already.” Salimikordasiabi’s final competitor was Russia’s European champion Ruslan Albegov, who lost by 1kg, allowing Salimikordasiabi’s lift of 455kg to become the champion. On his winning Salimikordasiabi told the media, “I’m very happy, I worked very hard for this and had a very hard schedule.”
Fellow Iranian 28-year-old Sajjad Anoushiravani took the bronze medal, with the silver going to Albegov. Anoushiravani said, “I’d have liked to be first but I’m happy with what I’ve got. God forbid if one day he is not able to compete, I will carry Iran’s flag for him. But the most important thing is that we both competed and both won a medal.”
In men’s athletics, Ehsan Hadadi won Iran’s first ever silver medal with a 68.18m discus throw on Tuesday with Kianoush Rostami winning Iran a bronze medal on August 3 in the men’s 85kg weightlifting.
Hamid Soryan, a 26-year-old wrestler from Tehran, won Iran’s first gold medal in 40 years in the 55kg Greco-Roman wrestling on August 5 after defeating Azerbaijan’s Rovshan Bayramov 2-0 in the final. Another celebrated winner is defending world champion Omid Noroozi in men’s 60kg Greco-Roman wrestling, who defeated Georgia’s Revaz Lashkhi 1-0, 1-0 to give Iran its second gold medal.
Ghasem Rezai in men’s 96kg Greco-Roman wrestling gave Iran its third gold medal in many days by beating Russia’s Rustam Totrov 2-0, 1-0 on Tuesday. Rezai said in a statement, “I am very happy because I have made my people very proud. To see all the Iranians inside the stadium and back home, to bring smiles to their faces is the happiest moment of my life.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad congratulated the Iranian Olympians on Sunday, “I hereby congratulate the Iranian wrestlers, athletes and nation on Iran’s first gold medal at the London Olympics won by young and brave Greco-Roman wrestler Hamid Sourian. I pray to God for more victories by Iranian athletes in the London 2012 Olympic Games.”