GrossetoWhen 19yearold Ehsan Hadadi released a 62.14 metres throw to clinch gold in the Discus Throw final at the IAAF World Junior Championships here in Grosseto he not only became a hero for his country he also became a hero for the sport of athletics.
Born and raised in Teheran, Hadadi became the first man from Iran to win a medal at any global athletics competition following a superb competition in which he took the lead with his third round effort of 60.01.
Going into the final three rounds, the Asian Junior champion from Ipoh last June strengthened his lead with an effort of 62.14, just 10 centimetres off his personal best.
The gold medal was secured and Hadadi would make headlines in all thirteen sports newspapers back in Iran.
“Athletics is very popular in Iran, a lot of young kids practice the sport. But track and field is nothing compared to football which is everywhere in Iran. After football, the most popular sports are weightlifting and wrestling so this gold is historical for us,” said the team leader of Iran in very poor English.
The eldest of three siblings, Hadadi enjoys recounting how he came to the sport three years ago when he accidentally broke a glass window while throwing stones in his backyard.
“That’s how it all began,” he laughs surrounded by his coach, his agent and Iran’s team leader.
A charming young man, Hadadi answered dozens of telephone calls all coming from Iran media explaining how he became the World Junior champion here in Grosseto before turning to the local journalists.
“We have 2 national channels in Iran which are exclusively sports channel,” said the team leader. “Ehsan just answered questions from the television and also did a radio interview.”
His mother a school teacher and his father the owner of a sport shop who used to be a football player in his youth, Hadadi is a charming young man whose happiness is communicative.
“We are very positive people. We enjoy laughing and having fun!”
Hadadi is coached by Seyed Mohsen Shahrokhi, the father of Seyed Mahdi Shahrokhi who was fourth in the Shot Put final last Tuesday, and a former javelin thrower himself who moved from Khoramabad to Teheran to work at the national sport centre.
Since last year, Hadadi has been sharing his training between Teheran and Minsk where he says they have very good technicians.
“It’s been crazy, I’ve spent three months in Minsk then 10 days in Iran then 3 months again in Minsk and then finally the coach came to Iran for a long period of time.”
Previously Iran had only been represented in the 1990 edition of the World Junior Championships with Hossein Shayan clearing 2.05m in the High Jump. At the senior level Eshan Mohajershojaei advanced to the semi-final to last year’s World Championships in Paris.
In Grosseto, Iran finished a historical 14th in the medal table with Hadadi’s gold backed up by Shahrokhi’s fourth place.
In addition to a place in the history of the sport, Hadadi will be awarded a bonus of 5000 dollars and a Peugeot 206!