Iranian archer Zahra Nemati, a disabled trailblazer who in one of many firsts was Iran’s flag-bearer in the Rio Olympics, exited from the games on August 9 after a loss to Russia’s Inna Stepanova.
Nemati, who won the gold medal in archery at the London Paralympics in 2012, was quickly eliminated by Stepanova in a first-round encounter, leaving the Iranian shaken.
“I did my best but my opponent was really good and that’s why she could win it,” Nemati said after leaving the shooting platform to warm applause from the modest crowd.
“Maybe I couldn’t control my emotions and feelings at the moment, that’s why I couldn’t do my best performance.”
But Nemati, 31, whose spinal cord was severed in a car crash over a decade ago, said she wanted to use her moment in the spotlight to encourage other disabled people to pursue their dreams in the Olympics.
“I hope it is going to be motivation for all the people with disabilities, happy to see me here competing,” she said.
“Don’t let your disability defeat you. Sport is the best means to defeat disability.”