Olympic champion helps Hadadi get back to shape

After spending nine months on a wheel chair, the 32-year-old put away all the painful memories on Thursday night when he took the gold at the Asian Championships.

Ehsan Hadadi (right), who won the discus throw gold at the Asians on Thursday night, with the 2000 Sydney Olympics weightlifting champion Hossein Tavakoli in Bhubaneswar on Friday.   -  Stan Rayan

Nine months ago, he was on a wheelchair, virtually unable to do anything. After three surgeries in Germany, on his left knee and heel shortly after last year’s Rio Olympics, Ehsan Hadadi had a first-hand experience of how difficult life could be for an injured athlete. 

“I was on a wheelchair for nearly a month, I could not go to the bathroom, could not go out to eat, I could not do anything. And my weight went up to from 128kg to 142,” said Iranian discus thrower Hadadi, the silver medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, in a chat with Sportstar at the team hotel here on Friday.

The 32-year-old put away all those painful memories on Thursday night when he took the gold at the Asian Championships, brushing away the challenge from Malaysian Muhammed Irfan and India’s defending champion Vikas Gowda and booked his ticket to next month’s London Worlds.

“Actually, I was thinking of 64m because when I was training in Minsk (Belarus) recently, I felt good. But had I got two more throws yesterday, they would have been 66m,” said the three-time Asian Games champion and Asian record-holder whose gold here came with a 64.54m effort.

“I think 66m will bring a medal at the Worlds and memories of the 2012 Olympics will also inspire me in London.” Before Bhubaneswar, Hadadi last competed in the Asians in 2011 at Kobe, Japan.

“I came here because I needed the gold to get to the Worlds. Also, I thought I had never been to India. I’m so excited and happy that I came here and won the gold,” said Hadadi who was winning his fifth Asians gold. “People in India are lovely, they supported me when I threw well.”

And then he threw a big surprise. “My friend is here…he is an Olympic weightlifting champion,” said Hadadi as he introduced Hossein Tavakkoli, the 2000 Sydney Games heavyweight gold medallist, to this writer. “He has been helping me with the weight training after my surgery, helped me get back to shape.”



While the Iranian celebrated, Vikas Gowda was left pondering about his immediate future. The entry gates for the Worlds close on July 23 midnight…will he make a last dash to London? “I don’t know…I’ll have to see whether there any meets available,” said Gowda. “I’m going to talk to my coaches to see whether to do that or concentrate on the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games next year.”

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