Iran and Bosnia & Herzegovina have faced off in the last five men's sitting volleyball at the Paralympics and come as the favourites to play the final in Tokyo. With an overall score of 3-2 and pumped with the Rio 2016 title, the Iranian squad is ready to conquer another gold medal in the 2020 Games.
And one of their star players is Morteza Mehrzadselakjani, the tallest athlete at the Paralympic Games and the joint second tallest man in the world, with a height of 2,46m. Even seated, he can spike the ball reaching 2,30m and overshadows all the other players. He scored 28 points in the gold medal game in Rio against the Bosnians.
Besides the win in Rio, Iran claimed the title at the Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008 games, while Bosnia & Herzegovina prevailed in the Athens 2004 and London 2012 editions. The Iranian team is the World No.1 and is the biggest winner in Paralympic Games history, with three golds and two silver medals.
The Americans are the women's event defending champions, but their path to Tokyo hasn't been easy, as two of the 12-member team tested positive for Covid-19.
“We've really leaned on each other, because this is such a unique world we're entering into. We know we are all prepared, we've all done this before,” said American player Lora Webster to the Olympic Information Service. She will be competing at her fifth Paralympic Games.
China is the biggest challenge ahead of the Americans. Before losing in the Rio 2016 final, China had won every gold medal in this event.
There will be 188 sitting volleyball athletes competing at Tokyo 2020, on eight women’s teams and eight men’s teams. There are two classes of ability - VS1 (impaired) and VS2 (less impaired). Teams can have up to two VS2 players on the roster, but only one VS2 player on the court at any time.
Competition goes from August 27th to September 5th, the last day of the Games, at Hall A of the Makuhari Messe convention center.