Nemati steals Brazilian hearts with 2nd Paralympic title
Zahra Nemati added Paralympic gold in Rio to the historic gold she secured in London, with a dramatic, 6-4, win over World Archery Para Champion Wu Chunyan in the Sambodromo. Nemati was the first Iranian athlete to secure a gold medal in either the Olympic or Paralympic Games in 2012.
“There was just a feeling that I had that I knew I was going to win today,” Nemati said. “That’s why I was very calm and relaxed. I just knew I could do it.”
Nemati was impressive.
She shot a fifth-set perfect 30 in the quarterfinals to lift herself above a determined Elisabetta Mijno – then pulled another 30 when she needed it to level the match in the fourth set of the final.
It was that set that turned the tide against Wu Chunyan, who had never lost a match in world-level competition after collecting three golds at the last World Archery Para Championships. Nemati shot a last-arrow 10 to secure her second Paralympic crown in style.
“The energy from the people around me, the spectators, the people who wanted me to win – all this energy affected me and that was what helped me. I’m very happy, I’m so happy. I’m so tired and all this work from the past two, three months has been weighing heavily on my shoulders,” she said.
After receiving her medal, and letting her coach drape it around his neck for a moment, before handing it back, she went to great a legion of adoring Brazilian fans who had supported her throughout her matches.
Since carrying the flag during the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympic Games, Nemati has said she has been surprised by the enthusiasm of the locals.
“The people of Brazil have been very kind to me during the Olympics and the Paralympics. They have been really nice and special the way they treated me. All I’ve been trying to do is use this energy I’ve been getting from them to put it in my sport,” she said.
Nemati also won silver in the recurve open mixed team competition in Rio with Ebrahim Ranjbarkivaj.
Wu Chunyan said she was pleased with her competition – and that she hoped to face Nemati again in Tokyo in 2020, in a similarly dramatic battle for gold.
The para archery competition at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games runs 10-17 September in the Sambodromo.