0858 GMT January 18, 2019
Following his remarkable achievement at the 2018 Asian Para Games, Iran’s swimming sensation Shahin Izadyar has now set his sights on success at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo.
A glittering campaign saw Iran claim 136 medals – including 51 golds –in Jakarta, Indonesia, where Izadyar alone grabbed six gold medals and one silver to make a significant contribution to his country’s third-place finish in the overall standings.
A contestant at the two previous editions of the Paralympics, the 25-year-old is highly tipped to make his mark at Tokyo 2020, ending the country’s medal drought at the highest level of the para swimming competitions.
The following is what Izadyar had to say about his triumphs in Jakarta and his ambitions for Tokyo Paralympics:
IRAN DAILY: Did you predict such a magnificent result in Jakarta?
SHAHIN IZADYAR: Well, given my records and my opponents’ rankings prior to the Games, I could foresee some medals. However, with all the tight competition between the contestants, you could not make a full prediction of the final results.
And it had been a long time since your last gold in the Games.
Yes, my last gold medals came in Guangzhou 2010, when I won a couple plus one silver and three bronzes at the age of 17. I had to wait eight years to win a gold again despite collecting five silvers and one bronze in Incheon 2014. I came short of winning gold by only milliseconds at some categories in those competitions.
Tell us about your preparation for the Games in Jakarta.
I had improved in different aspects compared to the last edition of the Asian Para Games. I had to leave my family and hometown of Karaj to move to Mashhad – 950km east of Karaj – eight years ago because my coach lives in that city.
I’ve been swimming 15km per day for months. My weekly training routine includes 15 sessions in the pool plus 12 sessions of workouts.
What is your future plans for the 2020 Paralympics?
I’m really looking forward to the Para Games in Tokyo. I intend to win a medal in the 100m breaststroke – my specialty – an ambition that requires hard work and much better training facilities.
My record in this category is 1:09min but the bronze medalist in Rio 2016 clocked 1:00:07 in the final.
Given your records, do you ever fancy your chances of competing with non-disabled athletes?
I participate at the S10 class in para swimming competition which is the closest class to the non-disabled one. Rules and regulations do not prevent me from participating in the non-disabled tournaments at all. I hold one of the top-three national records in the 100m breaststroke division, so I’m willing to take part in Iran’s non-disabled competitions.
As the last question, why do you think Iranians were more successful in the Para Games than Asian Games?
That’s probably because the disabled people are always aiming to prove that they possess the same capabilities as those of the non-disabled people. I believe that’s the driving force behind Iranians’ achievements in the Para Games.