An Olympic Dream Lost

By: Zohreh Abdollahkhani

Parisa Jahanfekrian was supposed to make history as the first woman to represent Iran in weightlifting at the Olympics this Tokyo 2020. That dream is now lost after Iran’s Sports Medicine Federation announced her withdrawal due to a recent hand surgery.


Jahanfekrian was awarded a quota place in Tokyo 2020 after Iuniarra Sipaia from Samoa similarly withdrew from the 87kg weight category. This, despite her missing the 2021 Asian Weightlifting Championships in Uzbekistan due to a hand injury.

Interestingly, Jahanfekrian was called to a disciplinary committee hearing after she criticized the I.R. Iran Weightlifting Federation (IRIWF) for not letting her compete in Uzbekistan on account of the hand injury. She was then told by the five federation officials in the committee that she did not have a chance to earn the Olympic quota place and further threatened to ban her from the national team.

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Not expecting to earn the Olympic quota place anymore, Jahanfekrian decides to undergo the hand surgery which she had to pay for herself as the IRIWF claims the injury was not sustained in a training under their watch.

The 26-year-old Jahanfekrian happens to be in good physical condition, despite acknowledging that she may not be able to get the result she is looking for after the surgery. Jahanfekrian could have actually had the hand surgery after the Olympics to better prepare for Tokyo 2020. But more important to her is that her participation in the Olympics “can be a beginning of a way for the Iranian women to show that they are capable of participating at the Olympic Games.”

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Despite her desire to still participate, the medical council of the Sports Medicine Federation of Iran declared that: “After reviewing her medical records and the reports of the relevant surgeon, she is currently not eligible to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”


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Edited by Aldo Tong

About the author

Zohreh Abdollahkhani
Master of Global Sport Management from Seoul National University. Member of Iran national Ice Climbing Team. Asian continental sport climbing Referee.
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