The first afghan winner-medal
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.
Spartan training conditions
A journey full of pitfalls