In the build up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Iranian powerlifter Siamand Rahman had tantalised the world with one of the most exciting stories of ‘will he or will he not’ ever seen in the Paralympic Movement.
On breaking the men’s over 107kg world record no less than nine times in two years before Rio 2016, the question on everyone’s lips was clear: can he reach the mystical 300kg mark?
The incredible answer, with Rahman setting and then exceeding the mark to finish with a 310kg world record, enters at No. 5 in the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of 2016.
It all began at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Rahman had stormed to gold in the then men’s over 100kg, beating teammate Mansour Pourmirzaei with a 280kg lift.
In an interview with Paralympic.org in December the following year, Rahman claimed he had regularly lifted 300kg in training. His comments came after Pourmirzaei’s world record of 276kg in the new 107kg weight category in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in November 2013.
That left Rahman with the 2014 World Championships to aim for. He would indeed reach 285kg to claim the world title and world record, kick starting a swirl of intrigue about how high he could go.
The intervening years would see the Iranian edge ever closer to 300kg, with his final world record (296kg) ahead of Rio 2016 set in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in February 2016.
In Rio, the last day of competition could not come soon enough for many.
The 28-year-old world champion, who weighs 169kg, established an early lead with a lift of 270kg on his first attempt.
With tension building in the Riocentro Pavillion 2, he lifted the historic 300kg on his second attempt and then upped the record with a lift of 305kg.
“As soon as I realised I had broken the 300kg I thought about my countrymen, and also about the sports fans all around the world. It was a magic moment,” Rahman said.
But he was not finished. Taking the opportunity to make another attempt on the world record, the powerhouse registered a 310kg attempt with the judges. Nobody was expecting this.
“During the last one and a half year, enjoying the assistance and support of the Iran’s Sports Federation for the Disabled and the IR Iran NPC [Iran National Paralympic Committee], I hit my best results in the training camps, when I was aiming at setting a historical record,” Rahman recalled.
“Such trainings and also the promise to make history for my people, created such a feeling within my body I felt I had to keep going, that I could go for more.”
As he made his way out onto the platform, the crowds fell silent. They were about to witness one of the greatest performances ever seen at a Paralympic Games.
Ensuring a good grip on the bending bar, Rahman let out a cry before lifting it aloft and using all his strength to control its descent to his huge chest. One more push, two white lights.
He had done it.
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2016, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.