Iran’s only female Olympic medalist reportedly defects

Elias Hubbard
January 12, 2020

Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin of Iran celebrates after defeating Nikita Glasnovic of Sweden during a women's Bronze Medal Taekwondo contest at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Aug. 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Ms. Alizadeh, 21, won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. "But I accept the pain and hardship of homesickness because I didn't want to be part of the hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery", she said.

I wore whatever they told me and repeated whatever they ordered.

I wish for nothing else than for Taekwondo, safety and for a happy and healthy life, she said adding that she was not invited to go to Europe.

Kimia Alizadeh, Iran's only female Olympic medalist, says she has permanently left the country, decrying what she called the "injustice" and "hypocrisy" of an Iranian political system that uses and humiliates athletes for political purposes.

Iran's only female Olympic medallist says she has defected, writing on social media that she had left her homeland after growing exhausted of being used by authorities as a propaganda tool. I wore whatever they said.

The semi-official ISNA news agency carried a report on Thursday saying: 'Shock for Iran's taekwondo. Every sentence they ordered me to say, I repeated.

"Should I start with hello, goodbye, or condolences?"

ISNA wrote that it was thought Alizadeh was looking to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but not as a member of the Iranian team.

She continued: 'None of us matter to them'.

She said the decision was harder than winning Olympic gold.

Her defection comes as Iran is gripped by protests - stemming from the accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner on Wednesday, in middle of a major confrontation with the US. "Hello oppressed people of Iran, goodbye noble people of Iran, my condolences to you people who are always mourning", she wrote.

Without saying anything of her plans, Alizadeh assured the "dear Iranian people" that she would remain "a child of Iran wherever" she is.

Alizadeh is the third top Iranian sports person to stop representing the country in recent months.

In December, Iran's chess federation said top-rated chess champion Alireza Firouzja had decided not to play for Iran over the country's informal ban on competing against Israeli players. In September, Saeed Mollaei, an Iranian judoka, left the country for Germany.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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