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Encouraging return to competition for refugee and Olympian Farzad Mansouri

21st May 2022


Farzad Mansouri’s future is “very bright” according to GB Performance Director Gary Hall despite the Afghanistan born athlete’s exit from the European Championships in Manchester.

The 20-year-old, given permission to take part as a refugee competitor, reached the last 16 of the -80kg weight division in his first tournament since the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Since carrying the Afghan flag and fighting in the Japanese capital, Mansouri lived in an Abu Dhabi refugee camp after fleeing with his family from the Taliban.

Three weeks ago, he arrived in the UK after GB Taekwondo put their elite training facilities at his disposal.

“Overall, in terms of performances, I couldn’t have asked for anymore when you consider he has been in a refugee camp for eight or nine months,” said Hall.

“It’s all about the emotional adjustment from living in a camp to training alongside a professional team to competing in what is his first fight since Tokyo. It is incredible what he has done with his background.”

Mansouri enjoyed a 21-14 opening win over Azerbaijan rival Taleh Sulleymanov before facing second seed Richard Ordemann.

The tall Norwegian, who also fought at last year’s Olympics, built up a commanding lead in the third and final round.

Mansouri cut the deficit to two points but despite his best-efforts Ordemann held on for a 14-12 victory.

“He beat his opponent from Azerbaijan who is a real quality lad,” added Hall. “Then he faced the second seed who is one of the favourites for the title.

“He hasn’t had the right kind of quality training we want. But he fought and showed some good qualities as an athlete. So, I think the future is very bright.”

Mansouri, introduced to Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham after his fight, will next compete at the Luxembourg Open in three week’s time.

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