Kimia Alizadeh: Iranian defector from Olympic refugee team stuns double Olympic taekwondo champion

Kimia Alizadeh beat Britain’s Jones 16-12 on Sunday in the women’s taekwondo round of 16 -57 kg.

She then beat China’s Lijun Zhou in the quarter-finals before losing to Turkey’s Hatice Kubra Ilgun in the bronze medal match.

If Alizadeh had won that match, she would have won the Refugee Olympic Team’s very first medal since its inception in 2016.

Earlier on Sunday, Alizadeh beat an athlete representing Iran, Nahid Kiyani Chandeh, in a qualifying round.

Five years ago, Alizadeh became the first Iranian woman to win an Olympic medal competing for Iran after winning bronze in taekwondo at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Affectionately known in Iran as the “Tsunami,” Alizadeh announced in 2020 that she had permanently left her country of birth for Europe amid harsh criticism of the Iranian regime.
Kimia Alizadeh (blue) and Iranian Nahid Kiyani Chandeh (red) of the Refugee Olympic Team compete in the women's taekwondo -57kg knockout bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall in Tokyo on July 25, 2021.

“I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran that they have played with for years,” the athlete wrote in an Instagram post in 2020 explaining why she was defecting.

The 23-year-old was granted refugee status in Germany and now lives in the Bavarian town of Aschaffenburg.

Alizadeh celebrates after beating Jade Jones of Team Great Britain.

Alizadeh is the third refugee athlete from Germany, according to the German Taekwondo Union.

There are 29 athletes competing for the IOC Refugee Olympic Team at this year’s Games, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

IOC President Thomas Bach announced the creation of the Refugee Olympic Team – the first of its kind – in 2015, as part of the committee’s commitment to “help potential elite athletes affected by the crisis world of refugees “.

American Anastasija Zolotic won gold in taekwondo in the -57 kg category after beating Tatiana Minina of the Russian Olympic Committee who won silver.

Tatiana Manina and Anastasija Zolotic compete in the competition for the gold medal in women's taekwondo -57 kg.

Zolotic is the first American woman to win Olympic gold in taekwondo.

The bronze went to Ilgun and Lo Chia-Ling from Chinese Taipei.

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