Double gold for Iran on thrilling first day

16 May 2017
Turkey's Rahm Ben ALi (blue) and Iran's Nahid Kiyanichande compete in the women's -53kg taekwondo event
Turkey's Fadi Ferhani (blue) and Indonesia's Dhean Fajrin compete in the women's -46kg taekwondo event

Iran claimed two titles on the first day of the Islamic Solidarity Games taekwondo competition, in front of an excitable crowd in Baku on Tuesday.

In the women's under-46kg final at the Baku Sports Hall, 2011 world championship bronze medallist Rukiye Yildirim claimed the first taekwondo gold for Turkey thanks to a late show against youngster Dhean Fajrin.

Iranian Nahid Kiyanichandeh edged a tense -53kg final to prevent fellow teenager Zeliha Agris from making it two out of two for Turkey.

Yaprak Eris got the hosts on the gold-medal board in the -57kg category, before -54kg fighter Mahdi Eshaghi overturned a big deficit to beat home hope Gashim Magomedov on a golden point and grab victory number two for Iran.

Uzbekistan's Niyaz Pulatov took the last title of the day in the -58kg, after final opponent Omar Lakehal had to withdraw.

Indonesia's Fajrin struck the first blow just a few seconds into taekwondo's maiden final of the Games, but Yildirim hit back to level after a cagey first round.

The two fighters continued to be content with probing efforts, before the 18-year-old Fajrin delivered a kick to the head of her opponent to open up a significant five-point advantage going into the last two minutes.

Former European champion Yildirim had to draw on all of her experience, and she did just that with a rapid four points.

A kick to the hogus put her ahead, but in a dramatic last 20 seconds she was caught napping by Fajrin to fall behind.

The 26-year-old Yildirim, who had edged out Iranian Fatemeh Madahi 6-5 in the semi-finals, produced a flurry of point-scoring efforts though as she spun like a whirligig to collect five points at the death and snatch a thrilling 19-17 win.

Agris edged another nervy first round in the -53kg final, as neither woman could land a head kick.

With 'Under Pressure' playing over the speaker system, both athletes could feel the tension, and Kiyanichandeh, 18, crept ahead after two video reviews.

In a gripping climax, the only point Agris could score was from a penalty as Kiyanichandeh clinched Iran's ninth gold medal of the Games in all with an 8-5 victory.

The first home fighter to feature in a final was the Turkish-born 22-year-old Eris, as she looked to beat former compatriot Durdane Altunel.

A cagey round left it tied at just one point a-piece after the opening two minutes, but it opened up in the second with powerful blows being landed on both sides.

The score remained level going into the third though, and it stayed that way until Eris was awarded a penalty point in her favour with just 23 seconds left to grab a controversial 5-4 win.

Neither Magomedov or Eshaghi had gone through a whole semi-final to reach the gold-medal fight, after the Azeri won on a referee's stoppage and Eshagi was given a walkover.

They both looked fresh in a gripping contest, with a total of 13 points scored in the opening round alone.

The 17-year-old Magomedov appeared to have all but sealed the title in the second as he picked up eight points, but Eshaghi performed admirably to push him all the way.

Eshaghi, 19, somehow forced a golden-point situation with a 21-21 tie, which he won with a stunning head kick.

That was the last action of the day, as Moroccan Lakehal failed to recover from being stretchered out of the arena at the end of his earlier semi-final victory over Hamad Almabrouk.

© Agence France-Presse

Official Partners
Official Supporters