Iranian Paralympic cyclist dies after crash

By REUTERS
September 18, 2016 10:57
2 minute read.
Sarafaz Bahman Golbarnezhad

Iranian cyclist Sarafaz Bahman Golbarnezhad has died after a crash a day before the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Brazil. (photo credit: screenshot)

Iranian cyclist Sarafraz Bahman Golbarnezhad died after crashing in the C4-5 event at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics on Saturday, the first such death at the Games since they began in 1960, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has said.

IPC president Philip Craven called the events of the day "tragic" while also sending his condolences to the Iranian delegation.

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"This is an absolutely tragic day for the Paralympic movement and also for the Games here in Rio. I learned about this situation at approximately 1 o'clock this afternoon. And it's changed the way I feel today, obviously. And I think I should say to you all, the most sincere and deep condolences from the Paralympic family - and I think that's important, 'from the family' - go to the Islamic Republic of Iran's National Paralympic Committee," Craven said.

The IPC said the 48-year-old athlete crashed at the first portion of the Grumari loop on a mountainous stretch of the cycling course around 10:35 a.m. in Rio.

Craven said the ambulance was quick on the scene and everything was done to save Golbarnezhad's life.

"The ambulances that attended, attended within two minutes. It was the latest ambulance that had all intensive care equipment on it. And in Brazil, it's not just, how do you call it, paramedics, that staff that ambulance - there was a doctor, and there was a paramedic that was a nurse. And so, everything was in order and everything was done to try and save Bahman's life," he said.

The cyclist was pronounced dead shortly after arriving to a nearby hospital.

An investigation into the accident has been launched.

The sports director of cycling's governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), Piers Jones, said they were still piecing the details of the accident together.

"First of all, we're looking to try and gather as much information as we can from people in the area, from people who were in the convoy, to try and build up as clear a picture as we can. We'll be doing that as quickly as possible. It certainly would be in a matter of days that we would be able to," Jones said.

"I think athletes have always been daring. But I think that when something of this nature happens, of course, the IPC will, there will be the initial investigation that Mario referred to. And the UCI will be generating that report and of course in conjunction with the other authorities. And when that is available, of course, we will look at what might need to be done for the future," Craven added.

It was Golbarnezhad's second race in Rio. He finished 14th in the C4 time trial on Wednesday.

The cyclist took up the sport in 2002 and also participated at the London 2012 Paralympics.

"We are trying to manage the news inside Iran and of course his family is very sad about the situation and heartbroken," the secretary general of the National Paralympic Committee of Iran, Masoud Ashrafi, said.

The Iranian flag has been lowered to half-mast in the Athletes Village.

The Paralympic flag will also be flown at half-mast in the village and at the Riocentro venue where Iran plays Bosnia in the sitting volleyball final on Sunday.

A moment of silence will be held during Sunday's closing ceremony.


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