Iranian archer wins individual SportAccord award

In topping the podium at the London 2012 archery competition, Zahra Nemati was Iran's first ever female Paralympic gold medallist 03 Jun 2013 By IPC

“I hope I can be a deserved representative for the whole Paralympic Movement.”

Iranian Paralympic archer Zahra Nemati has won an individual award at the 2013 SportAccord Spirit of Sport Awards in St Petersburg, Russia.

The 28 year old won two medals at last year’s Paralympic Games and is widely regarded as helping to boost participation in para-archery in Iran as a result of her success.

At London 2012 Nemati set a Paralympic record on her way to gold in the women's individual recurve W1/W2 to become the first Iranian woman to win gold in either the Olympic or Paralympic Games. She also picked up a bronze medal in the women's team recurve open.

Her success in topping the podium in London generated significant media coverage in her home country which has not just helped to break down perceptions of people with an impairment but also inspired other women to take up sport.

Speaking to after picking up her award in St Petersburg, Zahra Nemati said: “This is great and proud honour for me and my country. I am very glad as an Iranian woman that I am representing all Paralympians from all over the world in receiving this award.

“I hope I can be a deserved representative for the whole Paralympic Movement.”

Xavier Gonzalez, the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Chief Executive Officer said: “On behalf of the whole Paralympic Movement I’d like to congratulate Zahra on winning this prestigious award.

“To be Iran’s first female gold medal winner is a historic achievement and I am delighted that her stunning performances in recent years, especially in London, have acted as an inspiration for many Iranian women to take up para-archery.”

Tom Dielen, Secretary General of the World Archery Federation (FITA), said: “This award is the result of an elite performance showing that women, with or without a disability can excel in international sport. It shows the true integration of our sport into society.”

Mahmoud Khosravivafa, President of the Iranian Paralympic Committee said: “It is a great honour for us that a Paralympian athlete is receiving this award today. She represents all Paralympians from all over the world.

“I’d like to thank the IPC for their support in winning this award and am delighted that we can be here with Zahra to see her pick-up this accolade.

“The Iranian Paralympic Committee has done a lot for sport for all in recent years and I really believe the success of Zahra at London and here in St Petersburg will help accelerate this.”

Born in April 1985, Zahra held a black belt in Taekwondo before she was injured in an accident in 2004 which left her with a spinal cord injury.

Two years after the accident, the university student took up archery and quickly proved to everyone that her impairment was no limitation.

Just six months after taking up the sport she took part in the National Championships, competing alongside able-bodied archers and finished in third place. As a result she was invited to join the National Archery team and has won a medal in every Championships she has competed in since.

During a two-year period competing with able-bodied archers, she won individual bronze and team silver & bronze medals in Asian competitions. In her first appearance in para-archery at the 2010 Czech Republic Championships she broke the world record while winning a number of medals in individual and team events.

At the 2011 Archery World Championships in Turin, Italy, she broke the world record in four distances.

The Spirit of Sport Award was created by the SportAccord Council in 2002 to commend the commitment and humanitarian spirit of SportAccord members who have made an exceptional and lasting contribution to using sport as a tool for positive social change.

At last year’s awards IPC Alpine Skiing Sport Technical Committee Chairperson Sylvana Mestre also picked up an individual award for her years of dedication in the fields of sport and disability.

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