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Iran’s Only Woman Olympic Winner Who Fled To Germany Wants To Compete As A Refugee At The Tokyo Olympics

Kimia Alizadeh, Iran’s only woman Olympic medal winner, has been granted refugee status in Germany and will compete in the European qualification tournament as a taekwondo player for the Olympic Refugee Team for the Tokyo Olympics.

Alizadeh won a bronze medal in taekwondo at the Rio 2016 Olympics at the age of 18 and fled to Germany in Jan. 2020. She had several offers to compete for the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium and Bulgaria, according to Reuters.

Kimia Alizadeh, Iran's first and only female Olympic medalist, competes in Women's-57kg Bronze Medal Taekwondo contest at 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Alizadeh (R) competes with Croatia’s Ana Zaninovic during their women’s taekwondo qualifying bout in the -57kg category as part of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on Aug. 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. (ED JONES / AFP via Getty Images)

Alizadeh said she chose to defect from Iran because she was sick of the the government using her achievement as “a propaganda tool.”

“I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran whom they’ve been playing for years,” she wrote on her social media at the time.

“I wore whatever they told me and repeated whatever they ordered. Every sentence they ordered I repeated,” she said. “None of us matter for them, we are just tools.”

Kimia Alizadeh, Iranian Taekwondo athelete, celebrates winning a bronze medal at 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Alizadeh poses with her bronze medal after the women’s taekwondo event in the -57kg category as part of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on Aug. 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. (KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP via Getty Images)

“Taekwondo changed my life,” she told Reuters, “When I got a medal, I was the first athlete in Iran and, after that, all the people knew me and … that was hard.”

She has since become Germany’s third refugee athlete after the German Taekwondo Union’s president had contacted the interior minister over her refugee status last summer.

Kimia Alizadeh, 18, first Iranian woman to win an Olympic medal, is met by fans and the press after arriving at airport in Tehran, Iran.
Alizadeh is cheered by her compatriots and met by the press upon her arrival at Imam Khomeini International Airport in the capital Tehran, on Aug. 26, 2016. (PEYMAN / AFP via Getty Images)

Currently, the 22-year-old lives in the Bavarian town of Aschaffenburg and has been training with her husband for the European qualification tournament, which is to take place in the Bulgarian capital Sofia from May 7 to 9.

She is aiming to join the Olympic Refugee Team, whose members will be picked in June.

Alizadeh from the Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates win for Women's -57kg Bronze Medal Taekwondo contest at 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Alizadeh celebrates after defeating Nikita Glasnovic of Sweden during the Women’s -57kg Bronze Medal Taekwondo contest at 2016 Rio Olympic Games on Aug. 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images)

“Now, everything is okay. The important thing is that I can have my personal life and my sports life together,” Alizadeh said, according to Reuters.

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