“I was tense and it was not easy to mentally adapt to the situation, particularly since you know that these are the Paralympic Games."
Two Rio 2016 competitions, two golds. That was the perfect outcome of Sareh Javanmardidodmani’s second Paralympic Games and the crowning achievement of the Iranian’s already unparalleled ascent to the top of the pistol shooting world.
Yet, whoever watched the world champion, multiple world record holder and newly minted two-time Paralympic champion closely after her last triumph in P4 (50m pistol mixed SH1) saw two things. One - the amount of energy those victories must have cost her and two - the pressure finally lifted off her shoulders.
Javanmardidodmani put the gun down and breathed in deeply. Her face breaking into a faint smile, she shook her head as if in disbelief. Moments later, she fell to her knees with tears in her eyes and buried her face in her hands, seemingly still unable to believe what she had just achieved.
“Yes, I was definitely more emotional after my victory in the P4 than after the P2,” Javanmardidodmani confirmed.
“The simple reason is that the P4 gold had always been one of the biggest goals I had had for my career. I had trained so hard for it over the last couple of months and had so much wished for a good result in Rio. But then the competition itself was not easy for me. So I just felt a lot of relief and joy in those moments.”
In hindsight, the Iranian’s earlier win in P2 (women's 10 m air pistol SH1), the discipline in which she started to excel quickly after she had arrived on the shooting scene in 2008, almost pales in comparison to that emotional triumph in the P4. After all, the world champion and world record holder Javanmardidodmani had been one to watch in P2 heading into Rio 2016.
“I did notice that my contenders were under a lot of stress as well and that for them, it was a difficult job to having to beat Sareh Javanmardidodmani,” she said.
Still, the biggest pressure weighed on Javanmardidodmani herself, given those highly successful golden years the 31-year-old had in between London 2012 and Rio.
“I was tense and it was not easy to mentally adapt to the situation, particularly since you know that these are the Paralympic Games. Given my successes in the past, everyone expected me to automatically perform well and on top of that, I had my personal ambitions to deal with. When I was not able to show my best performance in the qualification round, I was a bit worried how things would work out.”
Javanmardidodmani said that her faith helped her to regain her calm and confidence. “But I also want to thank my friends and my coach for their help in those difficult situations,” she said.
So what can be next in a career that slowly exhausts all superlatives?
“Improving my world records was not my primary concern in Rio,” Javanmardidodmani said. “But I will train even harder and I will improve them in other Championships and the next Paralympic Games. I know it will happen.”
The 2017 season will begin with a World cup in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, on 19-28 February.