Updated 17 July 2012
Ehsan Hadadi, Iran (Discus Throw)
Born: 20 January 1985
Lives in Tehran
1.93cm / 127kg
Coaching by Kim Bukhantsev
His first name – Ehsan – means a person who is always doing good things for people. His surname – Hadadi – means a person who works with iron. Both literal meanings completely correspond to the facts of Hahadi’s character and athletics career. Young Hadadi had many more chances of becoming a football player, like his father, but at the age of 15 he made another choice.
Ehsan first got acquainted with athletics at the age of 11. That day, Hadadi was playing handball at a school match. He took aim at the goal and threw the ball with such power that it broke the goalpost. Moreover, the ball bounced and knocked over the goalkeeper. Mr. Garshasbi, Hahadi’s teacher of physical culture, was impressed and proposed to Ehsan to enter the athletics group. “In this way I became a shot putter,” Hadadi recalls. “I achieved a mark over 9m at my first school competition in Tehran and took second place, but the coaches didn’t put my name in the list for the National school championships. I was too upset and left athletics, continuing to play football and handball. I helped my father in business and was a manager in a big supermarket in spite of my young age.”
4 years later, Hadadi came to the athletics competitions as a spectator. “I remember as if it were now when a coach came to me, asked me to stand up and measured my height and arm span, keeping silent. Then he said that I can be a good discus thrower and invited me to his group.”
Ehsan didn’t stay long in the group of Seyed Mohsen Shahrokhi. Ukrainian coach Ivan Palamarchuk noticed a talented boy and Hadadi joined his group without hesitation. Palamarchuk had 16 elder throwers in the group, that is why they had to bring forward Hadadi’s practices to 6 a.m. every day for individual training. But the first results came very quickly.
At the age of 15, Hadadi won the National Youth Championships with 55m (1.5kg) and improved the National Youth record by over 5 meters. “As a reward for such a high performance I went to training camp in Ukraine with my coach. We came back home after 3 months, but Palamarchuk refused to extend the contract. So I was coached by the decathletes’ coach, Serhey Sukhonosov and the hammer throwers’ coach, Yuriy Revenko, moving from one group to another. After half a year of wandering I joined Abbas Sammimi’s group.”
In 2002 Hadadi improved his PB to 57.08m (1.75kg) finishing 4th at the Asian Junior Championships, in Bangkok, and one year later he was 8th at the senior Asian Championships, achieving 54.40 and 8th place at the age of 18. “After those events I promised myself to become the Asian Champion one day,” Hadadi recalls.
In January 2004, a new coach was invited to Iran from Belarus and Hadadi became a pupil of Viktor Guter. In June, Hadadi won the Asian Junior Championships with a new NJR 62.24m and booked his ticket to the World Junior Championships in Grosseto. There 19-year-old Hadadi made history when he became the first Iranian to win an athletics World title of any kind when he collected World Junior gold with 62.14m. In a country which excels in traditional Olympic sports like wrestling and weightlifting, it was like a gift from heaven that Iran should have a World champion in one of the quintessential classic events, the Discus.
“I was the most thin and small among all participants in Grosseto,” Hadadi smiles. “I went to the World Juniors without my coach, but before departure to Italy I had put on paper all the directions from my coach. I had been keeping those notes like a very important document and followed them in all details. After that win, I expected to join our Olympic team, but had to watch the Athens competitions on TV.”
On 6 March 2005 Hadadi became the first athlete in Iran to throw the discus over 60m (60.06m). In May he finished second at the National Championships, with a new PB 61.38m and went to training camp in Belarus, where he won the National Championships as well (62.93m).
“I narrowly missed the qualification standard to the World Championships in Helsinki and was very upset,” Hadadi Hadadi remembers. “But on 1 September one of my dreams became a true. I won the Asian Championships, in Incheon, and set a new Asian record, 65.25m in the first attempt. I knew that I was in good shape that time but didn’t expect such a big success. I gained more self-confidence and dreamed about a bright future in athletics, but in December 2005 my coach moved to Qatar. I was alone again.”
In 2006 Hadadi went to get acquainted with Alekna at the Doha Super Grand Prix, where they were both competing. “Alekna was so kind with me. He pointed to some of my mistakes and inspired me that I can throw very far. After meeting with Alekna I went to Belarus, being invited by my friend (editor’s note: a Russian discus thrower living in Belarus at the time). There I met my new coach, Vitaliy Sokolov, and we came back to Iran together”.
While preparing for his first Asian Games, Hadadi finished second at the World Cup, in Athens, with 62.60m, and then on 7 December finished his long season by winning in Doha with 63.79m. He got a gold medal at the Asian Games for Iranian athletics after a 32-year break! But his coach returned to Belarus and Ehsan had to look for new trainer. His friend from Russia, discus thrower Olga Chernogorova, recommended to turn to Kim Bukhantsev. In February 2007, they start their teamwork.
“From the first training, Kim saw very many mistakes in my technique,” Hadadi says. “Every day I had to make more than 60-70 throws, but my coach revealed new and new inaccuracies. It was a time of real drilling. I was protesting and rebelling. I cried that I’m not in the army, but my coach continued to be imperturbable. He repeated to me at each practice ‘Guy, sport is much worse than the army. You have to be much more restrained and patient than any soldier.’ I don’t know a more disciplined and meticulous coach than Kim. He is an extraordinary man! He is the person I needed from the beginning of my athletics career.”
After only three months’ work with Bukhantsev, Hadadi improved the Asian record twice: first at the Club Championships, in Tehran (67.88m), and then at an International Throwing competition in Belarus (67.95m). At the end of July, Ehsan won the Asian Championships and went to Belarus for the last preparation before World Championships in Osaka.
“From day to day I felt better and better,” Hadadi says. “I rented a big house not far from the training camp in Belarus. One day when my friend was driving we got in a car accident. It was a terrible a crash at 170km/h speed. Fortunately, we got away with nothing more than a fright. I had only an arm injury. But my coach was sure that after such stress I would not be able to fight for a medal in Osaka. Moreover, on the flight to Japan I caught the flu and felt very sluggish in the field.”
At the World Championships, in Osaka, Hadadi struggled to get through qualification (62.75m). In the final he felt empty. As a result, Ehsan finished 7th only with 64.53m.
“I assured my coach that next year I’d win all my competitions,” Hadadi recalls. “But Bukhantsev kept sober mind and cool. ‘Don’t say it! Just do it,’ he answered. And I plunged into Olympic preparation without any rest after the season.”
Hadadi began his summer Olympic season with 6 victories. He improved the Asian record three times: 68.52m in Hengelo on 24 May, 69.12m at the Berlin Golden League event on 1 June and 69.32m in Tallinn on 3 June. “When I came back home after such a successful series of competitions, Iranians met me in Tehran airport like I was a national hero,” Hadadi smiles. “I was very motivated and inspired like never before.”
However, just as Ehsan started serious technical practices, he felt a pain in the chest. One week later, a pang appeared in the right hand. Iranian physiotherapists allowed him to continue Olympic preparation. “Only when the pain became intolerable we made magnetic resonance image, which showed a rupture of the pectoral muscles,” Ehsan explains. “I was shocked. Never before had I known what it means to be injured! Medical treatment was in vain, because of the high pre-Olympic loadings. At the end of July, I even couldn’t drive my car as the pain was too excruciating.”
Hadadi didn’t see the point of going to the Beijing Olympics. But in the end Ehsan went to China, where he posted only the 17th result in qualification (61.34m). “It was logical,” Hadadi says.” But I was so upset that I didn’t go to the Olympic stadium to see the Discus final.”
After the season, Hadadi had treatment in Russia and Germany. His coach was so tired from those problems that he went back home. “For a few months I was coached by one of my previous trainers, Viktor Guter, but I saw a big difference between them. I called Bukhantsev and begged him to return. He was around 80 years old and I understood how it is difficult for him to live in another country, far from the family. But Kim came back at the beginning of 2009.”
Hadadi made a deep examination of his injury. The doctor’s verdict was unforgiving. On 23 March 2009 Ehsan underwent surgery. All spring and summer he was recovering. Hadadi even tried to throw with his left hand, and achieved in training over 58m. Only in September, Ehsan was able to do his usual loading and they decided to prepare for the end of the Asian season. On 16 October he threw 66.19m and on 14 November he won the Asian Championships, in Guangzhou, with 64.83m.
In 2010, Hadadi achieved his Season Best 68.45, at a National competition in Tehran on 16 June, but was forced to take a break for more treatment of his injury. Nevertheless he began to compete again at the end of July. On 5 September, Hadadi got the Continental Cup bronze, in Split, with 64.55m and on 24 November won the Asian Games for the second time, setting the new competition record with 67.99m.
“2011 was very difficult for me,” Hadadi narrates. “We got a new President of our National Federation and everything changed for the worse. I couldn’t get any permission to go to training camp. Bukhantsev was very annoyed and didn’t want to continue our teamwork in such a situation. I wasted a lot of power in quarrels with the federation’s management. My masseur, Igor Mozgov, helped me during practices. And only 20 days before the World Championships, in Daegu, I went to training camp in Russia, in Podolsk. Bukhanthev did everything possible to correct my technique and save my physical shape.”
At the World Championships, in Daegu, Hadadi had to compete without his coach. Hadi Sepehrzad, the Iranian decathlete, helped him during the last trainings. Ehsan went through the qualification easily with 65.21m. The night before the Daegu
’ final was sleepless for Hadadi. He looked forward to a World medal and on 30 August his dream became true. Ehsan threw 66.08m (SB) and got the bronze medal. On the way back to Moscow, he caught a cold and went to the Diamond League final, in Zürich, with high temperature. That is why Hadadi finished his season with low results.
“When I came back home nobody met me at the airport” Hadadi says. “I convened the Iranian Media and told them about all my personal and all Iranian athletes’ problems. At least the management of our National Athletics Federation was changed. The new President asked me first of all what coach I wanted to work with. Certainly, I preferred Kim to return to Iran.”
“In January 2012, Bukhantsev came to Tehran and we started our preparation for the London Olympics. In spite of the fact that I opened my summer season in April with 66.65m, we weren’t in a hurry to observe the good shape early in summer. After checking the shape in May with a 68.20m Season Best in Halle, we began our purposeful preparation for London, where I hope to show my best shape in the career.”
Discus Throw: 69.32m (2008)
Discus Throw: 2002: 53.66/57.08 (1.75kg) 2003: 54.40; 2004: 54.96/62.24 (1.75kg) 2005: 65.25 AR; 2006: 63.79; 2007: 67.95 AR; 2008: 69.32 AR; 2009: 66.19; 2010: 68.45; 2011: 66.08; 2012: 68.20
2002 4th Asian Junior Championships
2003 8th Asian Championships
2004 1st Asian Junior Championships
2004 1st World Junior Championships
2005 1st Asian Championships
2005 1st West Asian Games
2006 2nd World Cup
2006 1st Asian Games
2007 1st Asian Championships
2007 7th World Championships
2008 q Olympic Games
2008 6th World Athletics Final
2009 1st Asian Championships
2010 3rd Continental Cup
2010 1st Asian Games
2011 1st Asian Championships
2011 3rd World Championships
Prepared by Liudmyla Iakusheva for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2012