1987

ROHULLAH NIKPAI

The Olympic Museum

The first afghan winner-medal

Rohullah Nikpai, Getty Images / Hannah PETERS, 2012-08-09, From the collection of: The Olympic Museum
CHANGE-MAKERS 
While individuals may encounter difficulties in life simply because of their gender, skin colour, religion or country of origin, the Games, with the diversity of the athletes who take part, champion the right to be different.   Participating at the Games may not change the world, but it can certainly help make a difference.
Rohullah Nikpai, Getty Images / Paula BRONSTEIN, 2008-03-04, From the collection of: The Olympic Museum

ROHULLAH NIKPAI (AFG, TAEKWONDO) - 1987-

A source of great comfort

In 2008, at the Beijing Games, Rohullah Nikpai stamped his mark on the history of his country of birth by gaining it its first Olympic medal. It had been an extremely long journey from his introduction to taekwondo at 10 years of age in a refugee camp in Iran.

Born in Kabul, incessant conflict forced him to leave Afghanistan. In 2004, he returned to his native country and pursued his training under a government-funded scheme and with support from the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity funding and training programme.

In the wake of his achievement in China, Nikpai returned home to a hero’s welcome from hundreds of thousands of Afghans, his victory a glimmer of hope in a country ravaged by war.

Four years later, in London, Nikpai repeated his performance, winning a second bronze medal. His sporting achievement is all the more remarkable since, before him, Afghanistan’s best result in the Olympic Games dated back to Tokyo in 1964.

Nikpai, who had known far from optimum training conditions, won the hearts of his compatriots within the space of two Olympiads. His holds a unique place in Afghan history.

A source of great comfort
Rohullah Nikpai, Getty Images / Shaun BOTTERILL, 2008-08-20, From the collection of: The Olympic Museum

Beijing 2008

Rohullah Nikpai, Getty Images / Paula BRONSTEIN, 2008-03-04, From the collection of: The Olympic Museum

Spartan training conditions

A journey full of pitfalls

Rohullah Nikpai, Getty Images / Scott HEAVEY, 2012-08-09, From the collection of: The Olympic Museum

London 2012

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