Even Iran’s most conservative elements cheered for Kimia Alizadeh who, on Thursday, won a bronze medal in taekwondo, the first women ever from Iran to win an Olympic medal.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani tweeted: “My daughter Kimia, you have triggered the happiness of all the Iranians, and particularly of the women. I wish you eternal joy.”
Iran’s Fars news agency, known to be deeply conservative, according to NDTV, said in its report on her win that Alizadeh had “made history” and that her bronze medal “is worth gold”.
On Thursday, 18-year-old Alizadeh beat Nikita Glasnostic of Sweden 5-1 in the taekwondo under-57kg division, winning the bronze.
The Fars news report on Friday said: “What an honour… to be the first” and described Alizadeh as the “lionness of Iran”. The agency added: “one must be a woman to totally feel this moment with pride”.
Alizadeh competed wearing a head scarf with her taekwondo uniform and protective gear. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hossein Jaberi Ansari posted a picture of her on his Instagram page, as well as an image of Egypt’s Hedaya Malak who took home the other women’s bronze in taekwondo, making a statement about women in Islam. He said the two women victors were a “symbol of the unity and the efforts of Muslim women, who shine and yet respect their values”.
Iran celebrated with messages on social media including one from actress Taraneh Alidoosti who had annoyed the clerics and started a debate in the country when she posted a photo of herself earlier this year with a woman power symbol tattooed on her arm.
Alidoosti tweeted to Alizadeh: “The future will tell what you have achieved for your peers.” She added: “You have bolstered their faith and showed them that (sports) belongs to them as well.”
Women in Iran were banned from entering sports stadiums as part of the gender segregation introduced by Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
In a minor revolution of her own, Lida Fariman was the first Iranian woman to compete at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in shooting. This year, Iran sent nine women to the Rio Olympics in a team of 41.
An excited Alizadeh told Iranian television that she hopes Iranian women will win golds at the next Olympics.
Her father told Mehr news agency: “I hope that the Iranian people appreciate what Kimia has achieved. She gave her 100 per cent”.
Feature image credit: independent.co.uk