Rouhollah Rostami picked up Iran’s first Paralympic gold at the Tokyo Games, blowing away the competition in the men’s -80kg Powerlifting competition.
Having set a new world record in May, the 32-year-old was the clear favourite, and didn’t fail to impress finishing the meet with his biggest lift 19kg heavier than Xiaofei Gu of China who took silver, and 22kg ahead of Mohamed Elefat of Egypt, who claimed bronze.
From the first round of attempts, the question was never ‘who?’, but instead, ‘by how much?’ as Rostami’s first lift of 225kg was enough to have bagged him Iran’s first Paralympic gold in Tokyo.
However, with his sights set on breaking his own world record, and the paralympic record set by compatriot Majid Farzin in Rio 2016, Rostami continued to trouble the weight-loaders and impress the viewers.
Having completed three successful lifts, the judges allowed Rostami a fourth attempt to break the record. The additional 8kg proved too much for the Iranian. Content with his victory, Rostami will be returning to Tehran with gold, to add to the silver medal he won in London 2012 in the -67.5kg class.
Rostami had missed the games in Rio, having received a two-year ban from competition after testing positive for the banned substance methylhexaneamine while competing at the 2014 World Championships in Dubai. He was stripped of his silver medal in the 72kg category.
It was Iran’s second medal in powerlifting. Amir Jafari snatched a silver medal on Friday in the men’s -65kg.
Egypt had also had a successful day in the Tokyo International Forum, with silver medals from Mahmoud Attia (men’s -72kg) and Fatma Omar (women’s 67kg) adding to Elemat’s bronze. The North African nation is yet to win gold at the games, but has so far claimed 4 silvers and one bronze, all in para-powerlifting.
Elsewhere, Nassima Saifi won a silver medal for Algeria in the women’s discus f57 class. The two-time Paralympic champion and world record holder was unable to defend her title against Uzbekistan’s newcomer Mokhigul Khamdamova.
Somaya Bousaid of Tunisia also was unable to retain her paralympic crown, taking bronze in the women’s 1500m T13 class. She was soundly beaten by Tigist Menigstu who won Ethiopia’s first-ever Paralympic gold, and Liza Corso of the US taking silver, both finishing with personal bests.