Iranian Athletes Come of Age at Asian Games
The Islamic Republic of Iran has carved out a glorious name for itself in sporting events in the international scene, with its scintillating performances in a variety of fields that often bring it world titles, especially in wrestling and weightlifting, as well as moral victories even in defeats in various other games, such as the heroic play of its footballers in the recent World Championship in Moscow, where the national bowed out, but full honours.
As was proven in the Asian Games, it was a memorable sight for spectators at Jakarta to see the Islamic Republic of Iran’s flag unfurled frequently, along with the singing of the national anthem, as Iranian athletes won a variety of medals and were presented with official mascot – the rhinoceros.
Here is a Viewpoint Column that appeared in Iran’s English language daily “Kayhan International” titled: “Iranian Athletes Come of Age at Asian Games”.
Kayhan International wrote: “Iranian athletes once again made the country proud with their sparkling performance at the recently concluded Asian Games in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, raking in 20 gold medals, 20 silver medals, and 22 bronze medals, with a total tally of 62, and standing 6th in the final rankings.
“They deserved to win more medals as was clear from their dynamic display in several sporting events at the 18th Asian Games, but unfortunately certain dubious decisions by the referees robbed them of the goals of their spirited efforts.
“Nonetheless, it would be unfair to cry foul over some of the results, as it is human to err. The overall atmosphere was excellent and the games played in a truly sporting spirit, with hosts Indonesia making all participants feel at home.
“Iran has been participating in the Asian Games ever since the inaugural events in New Delhi in 1951, except for three absences, that is, Manila 1954, Jakarta 1962 and Bangkok 1978 – the height of the grassroots movement of the Iranian people to oust the British-installed and US-supported Pahlavi regime.
Incidentally, in 1974 Iran had hosted the 7th Asian Games, and to the utter astonishment of everybody, had finished second in the table of contestants with a record tally of 81 medals (36 gold, 28 silver, 17 bronze) – compared to a mere 23 medals (9 gold, 7 silver, 7 bronze) at the previous games in Bangkok, and the tally of 31 medals (6 gold, 8 silver, 17 bronze) at the 1966 Asian Games, also in the capital of Thailand.”
Kayhan International said: “Was it a fluke performance at Tehran in 1974, or were it the petrodollars of the regime, in view of the fact that in many of the sporting events in which Iran fielded winning teams (e.g. hockey) it had no earlier experience in that particular event nor did it ever compete in such categories ever after?
“This is not to distract attention from the calibre, talents and records, of world class Iranian athletes in such sporting events as wrestling, weightlifting and to a certain extent football, which they have always dominated not only at the Asian Games but also at the Olympics and other international competitions.
“The victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and establishment of the popular religious system of government was indeed a great boost for Iranian athletes, whose talents gradually became diversified in many other sporting events including basketball, volleyball, archery, equestrian, canoeing, sprinting, fencing, marksmanship, and boxing, in addition to the new categories at the Asian and other international games, such as Karate, Taekwondo, Judo, Kabbadi, water polo, Wu Shu, aquatics, etc.
“Without the least doubt, the 378 athletes that competed in Jakarta this year, proved the prowess of Iranian athletes in almost all sporting fields, in which they have steadily excelled as is evident from their impressive record of the past three Asian Games – 20 gold, 15 silver, 24 bronze (total 59 and 4th rank) at Guangzhou, China in 2010, followed by 21 gold, 18 silver, 18 bronze (total 57 rank 5) at Incheon, South Korea in 2014.”
According to Kayhan International, “The 6th position at Jakarta doesn’t mean that the ranking of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the Asian Games is on the decline. No this is not the case, as could be gauged by the growing number of teams from new participants, coupled with tough competition, and of course, the ‘inadvertent’ mistakes of the referees, often in favour of athletes from the host country.
“Among Muslim countries, Iranian athletes, with woman participants clad in Islamic attire and clinching medals in various sporting events, speaks of homegrown talents and the care taken by the country to groom them.
“The Ministry of Youth and Sports that was established in 2011 after the National Sports Organization was dissolved, should not sit on past or present laurels, but should devote more efforts to unearth talents throughout the country in various sporting fields – without petty squabbling or partisan attitudes – in order to build a solid foundation of Iranian athletes, both male and female.
“Islam stresses the importance of sports and maintenance of healthy bodies, as well as sound and sane minds, with emphasis on sporting spirit, rather than on unfair tactics for winning, or feeling psychologically depressed in case of failure.
“If this injunction is followed, there is no reason why Iran will not improve its rankings at sporting events, of course in an atmosphere of fair play.”