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Iran’s Zahra NEMATI wins individual SportAccord award

Paralympic champion from Iran Zahra NEMATI won the Spirit of Sport Individual Award in St Petersburg, Russia. In winning gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, NEMATI made history by becoming the first Iranian woman to win a gold medal at either an Olympic or Paralympic Games. She is widely regarded as helping to break down perceptions of people with impairment but also inspired other Iranian women to take up sport.

Born in April 1985, Zahra NEMATI held a black belt in taekwondo before she was injured in a car accident in 2004 which left her with a spinal cord injury. Two years after the accident, the university student took up archery and quickly proved to everyone that her impairment was no limitation: just six months after taking up the sport, she took part in her country’s national championships, competing alongside able-bodied archers and finished in third place. As a result she was invited to join the national archery team and has won a medal in every championship she has competed in since. 

During a two year period competing with able-bodied archers, NEMATI won individual and team medals in Asian Grand Prix tournaments. In her first appearance in para-archery, in 2010 at the World Ranking Tournament in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, she broke the world record while winning a number of medals in individual and team events. At the 2011 World Para-Archery Championships in Turin, Italy, she broke the world record in four distances, and collected three medals: silver in W1/W2 women’s individual, bronze in open women’s team and gold in open mixed team. At the London Paralympic Games, NEMATI set a Paralympic record to win individual gold and also took bronze in the team event. 

Her success, determination and courage have led her to become a role model in Iranian society, helping to change perceptions of people with impairment. The number of people practicing para-archery in Iran has also increased due to her achievements. 

These achievements earned Zahra NEMATI the individual Spirit of Sport Award, attributed earlier this week in St Petersburg at the SportAccord Convention. This award was created by the SportAccord Council to commend the commitment and humanitarian spirit of SportAccord members who have made an exceptional and lasting contribution to using sport as a tool for positive social change. 

After picking up her award, Zahra NEMATI said: “This is great and proud honour for me and my country. I am very glad as an Iranian woman that I am representing all Paralympians from all over the world in receiving this award. “I hope I can be a deserved representative for the whole Paralympic Movement.” 

Xavier GONZALEZ, the International Paralympic Committee’s Chief Executive Officer said: “On behalf of the whole Paralympic Movement I’d like to congratulate Zahra on winning this prestigious award. To be Iran’s first female gold medal winner is a historic achievement and I am delighted that her stunning performances in recent years, especially in London, have acted as an inspiration for many Iranian women to take up para-archery.” 

Tom DIELEN, Secretary General of the World Archery Federation, said: “This award is the result of an elite performance showing that women, with or without a disability can excel in international sport. It shows the true integration of our sport into society.” 

Mahmoud KHOSRAVIVAFA, President of the Iranian Paralympic Committee, said: “It is a great honour for us that a Paralympian athlete is receiving this award today.  She represents all Paralympians from all over the world. The Iranian Paralympic Committee has done a lot for sport for all in recent years and I really believe the success of Zahra at London and here in St Petersburg will help accelerate this.” 

To watch a video profile of Zahra NEMATI and moments of her gold medal performance in London, please click here

Biography Extract 

Zahra NEMATI – Born on 30 April 1985 

1st

Individual W1/W2

Paralympic Games – London

2012

3rd

Team Open

Paralympic Games – London

2012

2nd

Individual W1/W2

World Championships – Turin

2011

3rd

Team Open

World Championships – Turin

2011

1st

Mixed Team Open

World Championships – Turin

2011

3rd

Individual W1/W2

Asian Para Games – Guangzhou

2010

3rd

Team (able-bodied)

4th Asian Grand Prix – New Delhi

2009

2nd

Team (able-bodied)

2nd Asian Grand Prix – Teheran

2009

3rd

Individual (able-bodied)

2nd Asian Grand Prix – Teheran

2009

 

World Archery Communication