A member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) won Iran’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in the men’s 10-meter air pistol competition on Saturday, dedicating it to the country’s supreme leader.
Javad Foroughi, 41, won gold – Iran’s first ever shooting medal – with a Games record total of 244.8 in the final.
Foroughi, a nurse at the IRGC-owned Baghiyyatollah hospital in Tehran, practiced shooting in the hospital basement, according to Iranian media.
Foroughi dedicated his medal to one of the 12 Shia Imams and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
“I dedicate my medal to Imam Mahdi and my [supreme] leader,” Foroughi told the semi-official Tasnim news agency after his win.
Foroughi said he was dispatched to Syria in 2012-2013, serving there for two years as part of the IRGC’s medical team.
Foroughi’s win divided Iranians on social media. While some celebrated the achievement, others attacked Foroughi, saying they do not view his victory as theirs due to his membership in the IRGC and involvement in Syria.
“Bravo, Mr Javad Foroughi … We really need these triumphs, these joys. Bravo for making history,” US-based Iranian journalist Fereshteh Ghazi wrote in Persian on Twitter.
In response to Ghazi, Iran-based activist and former political prisoner Hossein Ronaghi wrote: “When someone who played a role in the massacre of the Syrian people wins a medal, it is neither a happy nor historic occasion. It is a shame for Iran! We should be ashamed, not happy, Ms Ghazi!”
Iran, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has been heavily involved in Syria since the beginning of the conflict there in 2011, sending thousands of Iranian and foreign fighters to back the Syrian central government.
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