News ID: 167142
Published: 0610 GMT August 19, 2016

Taekwondo athlete Alizadeh becomes Iran's first female Olympic medalist

Taekwondo athlete Alizadeh becomes Iran's first female Olympic medalist

Kimia Alizadeh won the first ever Olympic medal by an Iranian woman after claiming taekwondo bronze in Rio on Thursday.

The 18-year-old, who fights wearing a head-covering under her protective head-guard, beat Nikita Glasnovic of Sweden 5-1 in the under-57kg division in a one-sided contest at the Carioca Arena 3 to secure a breakthrough bronze.

The former junior world champion fell to the floor and kissed the mat after the fight.  

"I am so happy for Iranian girls because it is the first medal and I hope at the next Olympics we will get a gold," Alizadeh said after her historic triumph.

“I wish I had made history with a gold medal. I thank God that I made history with my bronze to pave the way for other Iranian women.

 “I am very excited and I want to thank my parents and my coach. They really stand behind me and I am so happy.”

President Hassan Rouhani congratulated the teen taekwondo star.

Great things have been expected of Alizadeh, who won the Youth Olympics two years ago and last year took bronze at the world championships, beating 2012 Olympic champion Jade Jones of Britain along the way.

Alizadeh had lost 8-7 in the quarter-finals to Eva Calvo Gomez of Spain but was handed a repechage place once the Spaniard made the final, where she lost to Team GB’s Jade Jones. Welsh wonder Jones came through 16-7 after a thrilling match to defend her London 2012 title.

She said: “I’m still young so to be double Olympic champion already is crazy, to be honest.

 “I started crying before the semi-final because I was just so nervous and felt so much pressure. But I pulled it off when it mattered, so I’m just so happy.

“I obviously knew I’d feel some pressure as the reigning Olympic champion but I didn’t realize how much it would be.

Archer Lida Fariman was the first to compete at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

Iranian men have long been successful in taekwondo, with Hadi Saei winning back-to-back Olympic titles in 2004 and 2008.

Iran have won 65 medals at the Olympics in just four sports – wrestling, weightlifting, taekwondo and athletics – with Alizadeh's bronze the Asian nation's fifth medal in Rio.

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