An Iranian Paralympic cyclist, Bahman Golbarnezhad, died Saturday after an accident in the road race on the penultimate day of the Rio Games, officials said.
This is the first such death at the Games since they began in 1960
Bahman Golbarnezhad, 48, fell during the event and died of his injuries despite an attempt to take him to the hospital for treatment, officials said.
“He unfortunately passed away,” International Paralympic Committee (IPC) spokesman Craig Spence told AFP.
Golbarnezhad’s accident occurred during the more than two-hour C4-5 road race for athletes with varying disabilities but still able to bicycle. He was in the first section of a mountainous descent when he fell.
“The athlete received treatment at the scene and was in the process of being taken to the athlete hospital when he suffered a cardiac arrest,” the IPC said in a statement.
The cyclist, who wore a prosthesis on his left leg, took up the sport in 2002 and competed at the London 2012 Paralympics.
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.
“He was an exemplary Paralympic sportsman who, with love and energy, tried his best to promote the name of Iran and to make all of us proud and at the end he gave his life for this,” said
Golbarnezhad’s national Paralympic Committee.
“All members of the Iranian cultural and sports camp here express condolences to his family and the Iranian nation. The name of Bahman Golbarnezhad will be inscribed in the proud history of Iranian Paralympics.”
“This is truly heart-breaking news,” IPC president Philip Craven said.
“The Paralympic Family is united in grief at this horrendous tragedy, which casts a shadow over what have been great Paralympic Games here in Rio.”
Brazil’s top official for the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, Carlos Nuzman, called it “very sad news for sport and for the Paralympic movement. Our hearts and prayers are with Bahman’s family, his teammates and all the people of Iran.”
The Iranian flag was lowered to half-mast in the Paralympic Village, while the Paralympic flag was to be at half mast during Sunday’s sitting volleyball gold-medal match between Iran and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A minute of silence will be held during Sunday’s closing ceremony.
The British Paralympic team tweeted: “We are devastated by the news of Bahman Golbarnezhad’s passing. Our thoughts are with our friends and colleagues from NPC Iran.”
Rest in peace, Champ!
With Reuters / AFP inputs