An accident during the road race claimed the life of an Iranian Paralympic cyclist on the penultimate day of the Rio Games on Saturday, a report confirmed on the news.com. The Rio Paralympics, considered one of the most successful events, was shadowed in sorrow due to the tragic loss of Iranian para-cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad while competing in the men’s C4-5 road race.
In the history of the Paralympics which began in 1960, this is the first fatal accident. Another such incident took place in the 1960 Rome Olympics when Danish Cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen lost his life after falling off his cycle due to heat stroke.
Rio Olympics this year has witnessed a lot of accidents. A cyclist from Britain Vincenzo Nibali suffered a broken collarbone which forced him to crash out. Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten also suffered a similar bike crash. Gymnast Ellie Downie suffered a sickening fall on her neck, in the recently held Rio games. There are more such incidents reported.
According to officials, Bahman Golbarnezhad fell from his cycle and succumbed to his injuries.
Golbarnezhad who was an exceptional sportsman from Iran had represented Iran in two Summer Paralympic Games, first in 2012 in London and later in 2016 in Rio De Janeiro. He was an Iran-Iraq war veteran.
A press statement published in bbc.com said. “The athlete received treatment at the scene and was in the process of being taken to the athlete hospital when he had a cardiac arrest, The ambulance then diverted to the nearby Unimed Rio Hospital in Barra where he passed away soon after arrival.”
Piers Jones, the sports director of cycling’s governing body UCI further added, “We’re looking to gather as much information as we can and as quickly as possible – it should take a matter of days.”
Post this incident Iran’s flag was kept in half-mast in the Paralympics Village and a period of silence was observed during Sunday’s closing ceremony.
According to Secretary General of Iran’s National Paralympic Committee Masoud Ashrafi, Iran’s National Paralympics has asked for a full report of the incident from the IPC. The Committee further requested the body of Golbarnezhad to be flown back to Iran on Sunday.
In a news report published in bbc.com, Mr. Ashrafi said, “He had been cycling for 12 years and he was our best cyclist. He was married and has a wife and one son. He was the kind of man who was a family man. He loved his family.”
About this incident IPC President Sir Philip Craven said, “The Paralympic family is united in grief at this horrendous tragedy which casts a shadow over what has been a great Paralympic Games here in Rio,”
IPC is reported to launch an investigation into the circumstances of the crash.A report published in cnn.com quoted IPC as saying that the incident took place on the first section of the Grumari loop, a mountainous stretch of the course.
Dame Sarah Storey, Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian, said, “I am absolutely devastated to hear of a colleague who hasn’t made it home from the Games. Everyone expects to come home from a Games and it’s no real condolence that he died doing something he loved. It’s just a horrendous thing. It couldn’t be any worse. There are no words that can make it feel better. When you lose someone you don’t even know but who are in the same world… I sat opposite him in the pits this morning. I know who he is but I’ve never spoken to him. It still hits you really, really hard.”
Condolence message has been coming thick and fast after the incident mourning the death of this exceptional and brave Iranian sportsman. Carlos Nuzman, president of Rio 2016 said, “This is very sad news for the sport and for the Paralympic movement. Our hearts and prayers are with Bahman’s family, his team-mates and all the people of Iran.”
In Social Media as well condolence poured in for the Paralympic cyclist from Iran.
United States Olympic Team (via Twitter): “Our thoughts are with the friends, family and team-mates of Team Iran’s inspirational cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad.”
ParalympicsGB (via Twitter): “We are devastated by the news of Bahman Golbarnezhad’s passing. Our thoughts are with our friends and colleagues from NPC Iran.”
It is hoped that some lesson will be learnt to make the next Paralympics safer for the athletes.