Iran’s Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin made history Thursday night, claiming bronze in the 57-kilogram class of taekwondo and, in so doing, becoming the first Iranian woman to win a medal in any Olympic event. Alizadeh defeated Sweden’s Nikita Glasnovic to win the historic medal.
It’s a strong signifier in favor of gender equality under the flag of a nation notorious for its harsh, discriminatory treatment of women. One small example: Women are not even permitted in the stadiums where all-male athletic events are taking place, a state of affairs highlighted by a protestor at the Olympics earlier this week. The International Olympic Committee gave tacit approval to a sign that read “Let Iranian Women Enter Their Stadiums” held up by a protestor at volleyball games.
“I am so happy for Iranian girls because it is the first medal, and I hope at the next Olympics we will get a gold,” said Alizadeh, who wears a head covering under her headguard. Stringent religious regulations requiring specific clothing have hampered Iranian women’s athletic endeavors. Few Iranian women have competed in the Olympics since 1979; the first to do so was archer Lida Fariman in 1992.
Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin is the first Iranian female to win an Olympic medal (AFP)