Arash Miresmaeili

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Arash Miresmaeili
Medal record
Competitor for  Iran
Men's Judo
World Championships
Gold 2001 Munich 66 kg
Gold 2003 Osaka 66 kg
Bronze 2005 Cairo 66 kg
Bronze 2007 Rio de Janeiro 66 kg
Asian Games
Silver 2006 Doha 66 kg
Bronze 1998 Bangkok 66 kg
Asian Championships
Gold 1999 Wenzhou 66 kg
Gold 2001 Ulaanbaatar 66 kg
Gold 2008 Jeju City 66 kg
Silver 2005 Tashkent 66 kg
Bronze 2007 Kuwait City 66 kg

Arash Miresmaeili (Persian: آرش میراسماعیلی ‎, born March 3, 1981 in Khorramabad) is an Iranian judoka. He is a double world featherweight champion.

World Judo Championships[edit]

He won the gold medal in two World Judo Championships, the first one in 2001 in Munich, Germany, and the second in 2003 in Osaka, Japan. He also won bronze medal in the 2005 World Judo Championships in Cairo, Egypt and 2007 World Judo Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[citation needed]

Athens Olympic Games[edit]

Arash Miresmaili was the favourite for the gold medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics, where he was the flag bearer for Iran at the opening ceremonies. Slated to fight Israeli competitor Ehud Vaks in the first round, he was disqualified from competing because he was above the allowable weight limit for his class. It was claimed that Miresmaili deliberately set out to be disqualified rather than compete against an Israeli, which was interpreted from his own comments: "Although I have trained for months and was in good shape I refused to fight my Israeli opponent to sympathise with the suffering of the people of Palestine and I do not feel upset at all." [1]

Comments from Iranian officials and politicians have supported this view. The Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted then Iranian President Mohammad Khatami as saying that Miresmaeili's actions would be "recorded in the history of Iranian glories" and that the nation considered him to be "the champion of the 2004 Olympic Games." Iranian Olympic team chairman Nassrollah Sajadi told Shargh newspaper that the government should give the athlete $115,000 for his action, the amount the Iranian government awards gold medal winning athletes.[2] Then mayor of Tehran and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that though Miresmaeili "did not get a gold medal, he earned eternal honor by his refusal".[3] Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, the speaker of Iran's parliament, congratulated Miresmaeili, calling his refusal to compete a "brave decision" and that "Your disqualification because of supporting Palestine would promote your position in the heart of Muslims."[4][5]

On August 18, 2004, the International Judo Federation (IJF), which set up a commission to investigate whether Miresmaeili deliberately missed weight so he would not have to face Vaks, concluded he had no intention to avoid competing against an Israeli. After a hearing that included the president of Iran's judo federation, the commission concluded that Miresmaeili said he had no pre-planned intentions for not competing and that "he made no statement of any sort to any press," according to an IJF statement. The only issue that remained was that Miresmaeili was overweight on the weigh-in day, the IJF said, and as it has no rule for penalizing overweight athletes, it decided not to take any action against him.[4]

On September 8, 2004, Iran's official press agency announced the government had given him $125,000, the same amount awarded to Iran's two Athens gold medalists.[6]

Recent denial of entry to an election event of Iran's Judo Federation[edit]

In the summer of 2009, prior to the controversial Iranian presidential elections, Arash Miresmaeili chose to support the candidacy of Mohsen Rezaee, one of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rivals. Mohsen Rezaei appointed Miresmaeili as his campaign chief for Sports Committee. After being appointed, during a press conference, Miresmaeili stated that if Mohsen Rezaee is elected as president, there would be no more place for Iranian sports officials who have been appointed for political purposes, as opposed to their knowledge and capabilities. His backing of Rezaee and his remarks did not sit well with the conservative backers of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Iranian Sports Federation and elsewhere. It also drew immediate and harsh condemnation from the former Chief of Iran's Sports Federation, Mohammed Aliabadi. Since then, the effort to punish and sideline Miresmaeili has gone as far him even being denied entry to an election event of Iran's Judo Federation held on Jan 2nd, 2009. Miresmaeili tried very hard to gain entry into the event and was denied entry by the security guards. This angered Miresmaeili to a point where he called a press conference on the same day, during which he stated that he is very sorry for sports in Iran and that he is officially done with the Iranian Judo, but they cannot kill the love for Judo in him.[7]

References[edit]

External links[edit]