Iranian Kimia Alizadeh came up just short in her bid to win a first medal for the Refugee Olympic Team on Sunday after defying the odds to beat two gold medal favorites in the women’s taekwondo -57kg category.
On the second day of the taekwondo tournament, top Chinese and South Korean athletes lost their chance of gold, but it was Alizadeh who took the spotlight as she overcame Britain’s double Olympic champion Jade Jones and China’s Zhou Lijun.
Five years ago in Rio, Alizadeh became the only Iranian woman to win an Olympic medal when she took bronze. She fled to Germany last year, and is one of three taekwondo athletes competing for the refugee team at the Tokyo Games.
The Refugee Olympic Team had 10 competitors in three sports on their first Games appearance in Rio. It has 29 athletes in 12 sports in Tokyo 2020.
Alizadeh’s first match was against former compatriot Nahid Kiyani Chandeh who is coached by her previous instructor.
The 23-year-old was a clear favorite in the Makuhari Messe arena, entering to applause and cheers from members of the media and others in the venue at which no general public spectators were allowed.
Alizadeh, who said she left her homeland because she was fed up with being used as a propaganda tool, lost to Turkey’s Hatice Kubra Ilgun in the bronze medal match.
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