Women Highly Keen in Shooting Make Me Excited: Sareh Javanmardi
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian female Para shooter Sareh Javanmardi says that she is excited to see the Iranian women highly keen in shooting sport.
The 32-year-old made history by becoming the first Iranian female Para athlete to win Paralympic gold in the sport.
“Competing next to men in mixed 50m pistol SH1,” she told Paralympic.org. “Despite all the difficulties I faced, I still claimed the gold medal while the other medallists were both men. Having this gold medal around my neck represents the impressive capabilities of women in shooting.”
Four years ago, her archery compatriot Zahra Nemati became the first ever Iranian female to win a Paralympic or Olympic gold. Nemati was the only female Paralympian to claim gold of the 10 Iran took at London 2012.
At Rio 2016, three of Iran’s eight gold medals were won by women.
For Javanmardi, her achievement not only signifies the empowering nature of sport for Iranian women and girls, but also simply females in a male-dominated sport. Seven of the 12 shooting medal events in Rio were won by women.
“There were more recognized male athletes from different parts of the world that I could not even think of winning a medal,” she said.
“I tried to prove to myself and to my country that nothing can exclusively be at the possession of any group. I demonstrated that a woman can keep up with men and compete at the same level with them and win medals. When I started mixed 50m pistol SH1, I heard that Korean male athletes have the world records. But I showed at different competitions from Incheon 2014 to Rio 2016 that a woman can achieve medals also,” Javanmardi stated.
The Paralympic champion left Rio 2016 also with gold in the women’s 10m air pistol SH1, an event she took bronze in London, joining Nemati as role model in their country.
Referring to Nemati as a “dear friend,” Javanmardi said she is inspired by the Para archer’s competitiveness to compete not only alongside Para athletes but also able-bodied archers, breaking down a sort of a double-barrier.
Javanmardi also acknowledged that she is not the only athlete in her country paving a way toward equality. She mentioned Iranian Olympic shooters such as Najmeh Khedmati, Mahlagha Jan Bozorg and Elahe Ahmadi raising the profile of women in the sport.
“I see all these athletes as pioneer shooters in Iran, and they are motivating more people in a way I have never seen in the past,” she said. “After every competition I attend, more women come to me and express their enthusiasm about shooting and they ask about how they can start shooting in Iran. Seeing Iranian women highly keen in shooting makes me excited.”