Champions again as Islamic Republic of Iran win men’s sitting volleyball for seventh time

CHIBA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 04: Team Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates its gold medal win over Team Russian Paralympic Committee during the men's sitting volleyball gold match on day 11 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on September 04, 2021 in Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
CHIBA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 04: Team Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates its gold medal win over Team Russian Paralympic Committee during the men's sitting volleyball gold match on day 11 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on September 04, 2021 in Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The Islamic Republic of Iran seal a seventh consecutive Paralympic gold medal in the men’s sitting volleyball with a 3-1 victory over the Russian Paralympic Committee as old rivals, Bosnia Herzegovina settle for bronze after defeating Brazil 3-1 on Day 11 at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

They have done it again… the Islamic Republic of Iran are the undisputed kings of sitting volleyball.

The country, which has won more Paralympic gold medals than any other nation in the sport, has had another resounding victory, and this time over the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC).

The team beat them 4-0 (25-21, 25-14,19-25, 25-17), to win their seventh title, which led to jubilant scenes at the Makuhari Messe Hall on Day 11 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Among the stars of the Iranian team was Morteza Mehrzad Selakjani's, who was in outstanding form as an outside hitter. At 2.46m, he is the tallest man in Iran and the tallest Paralympian in history. And he made his presence felt by driving home 28 points.

CHIBA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 04: Morteza Mehrzad # 2 of Team Islamic Republic of Iran competes against Team Russian  Paralympic Committee during the men's sitting volleyball gold match on day 11 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on September 04, 2021 in Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
CHIBA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 04: Morteza Mehrzad # 2 of Team Islamic Republic of Iran competes against Team Russian Paralympic Committee during the men's sitting volleyball gold match on day 11 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on September 04, 2021 in Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
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The 33-year-old, who was part of the gold medal-winning team of Rio 2016, credits team spirit for their outstanding performances. And it showed with the tightknit team dominating the match, with Meisam Ali Pour also impressing with 17 points, and Mahdi Babadi landing 10.

But the RPC put up a fight, with top scorer Viktor Milenin helping the squad to a 25-19 victory in the third set. The 33-year-old got 30 past the Iranians in total, Aleksandr Savichev also scored 12. After the third set defeat the Iranians came back with four points in quick succession and closed it out 25-17.

On their way to the final, Iran showed their strength and power in the sport by not conceding a set to opponents Germany, Brazil, China and their long-term rivals Bosnia Herzegovina (BIH) 3-0.

For 21 years, the gold medal game at the Paralympic Games for men’s sitting volleyball has always been a battle between Iran and the Bosnians. The winner has swapped every cycle, with Iran winning most recently in Rio 2016.

After a surprise defeat to the RPC in the heats, the Bosnians met Iran in the semi-finals, where they were defeated 3-0. It was the first time in six Paralympic Games, the team played for the bronze medal, which they won, but only after a tense battle with Brazil.

The former Paralympic champions won by three sets to one with Brazil taking the first set 25-23. The Bosnians rallied by the second and won it 25-19. The South Americans kept the pressure on throughout the third set and were just two points behind at 18-16 but Bosnia extended the lead to close out the match at 25-18 and went on to win the fourth 25-11.

In the women’s bronze medal sitting volleyball match, Brazil’s fortunes reversed when they came out on top with a 3-1 (25-15, 24-26, 26-24, 25-14) win over Canada. Their compatriot Para swimming legend Daniel Dias, who retired this week as the sport’s most successful Paralympian with 27 medals, was in the arena to cheer them on.

The final of the women’s sitting volleyball match will be held on Day 12 with defending Paralympic champions United States taking on China, who were their opponents in the Rio 2016 final.