Iran Honors Fallen Paralympic Teammate After Sitting Volleyball Gold

SITTING VOLLEYBALL AT THE 2016 RIO PARALYMPICS

  • September 9th-18th, 2016
  • Results
  • Gold medal match box score

One of the IRI team holds a portrait of Para cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad IRI who sadly died whilst competing the previous day. Men’s Gold Medal Match, Match 18 Bosnia and Herzegovina vs IR Iran. Sitting Volleyball at the Riocentro – Pavilion 6. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil , Sunday 18th September 2016. Photo: Simon Bruty for OIS/IOC. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC

In a moment that is almost always celebratory, a sense of solemnity fell over the Iranian men’s sitting volleyball team when they won gold last Sunday as one of the last events of the 2016 Paralympic Games.

In front of a crowd of 5,100, Iran defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1, and afterward they dedicated the victory to Bahman Golbamezhad, who had died a day earlier in the men’s cycling road race.

Golbamezhad was involved in a serious crash while descending the treacherous Grumari Circuit on Saturday, September 17th. He received treatment at the scene after suffering fractures in his neck and was being taken to the athlete hospital when he suffered a cardiac arrest. He was then diverted to the Unimed Rio Hospital and died soon after arriving.

Golbamezhad became the first athlete to ever die during Paralympic competition. He was 48.

Masoud Ashrafi, the secretary general of Iran’s National Paralympic Committee, said: “There is one bitterness and one sweetness. Today we are so happy because the sitting volleyball team were able to win the gold medal. And we are going to present this gold medal to the soul of Bahman Golbarnezhad.”

In spite of the sadness, it was a triumphant day for Iran on Sunday. They were led by their superstar, Morteza Mehrzadselakjan, who at 8’1″ tall (246 centimeters) is the tallest man in Iran. He led the team with 26 kills on the match.

The final was a rematch of the sport’s two dominant teams – and the 5th-straight gold medal match that pitted these same two sides. Bosnia and Herzegovina won the last matchup in 2012, but this time it was Iran that came away with a dominant victory.

Iran has now won 6 out of the last 8 Paralympic gold medals in sitting volleyball.

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