A shadow has been cast over the upcoming Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, after the sudden death of two-time Paralympic gold medallist Siamand Rahman, aged 32.
The Iranian weightlifter, who was expected to take part in the Tokyo Games starting in July, died of a suspected heart attack.
Regarded as a pioneer of his sport, Rahman broke multiple weightlifting records over the course of his career, notably breaking nine world records over a three year period.
Rahman was born with a congenital condition in his legs, which stemmed from the effects of polio.
Never able to compete against able-bodied rivals, Rahman nonetheless proved he was a force to be reckoned with, winning gold at London in 2012 and Rio in 2016.
On his way to gold in Rio, Rahman lifted an impressive 310kg, an unprecedented mark.
He was the first Paralympic athlete to lift any more than 300kg, a feat which earned him the Best Male Athlete at the Paralympic Sport Awards in 2016.
Olympics community saddened by Rahman’s death
International Paralympic Committee president said Rahman was an ‘inspiration’ who would be dearly missed by his compatriots and rivals alike.
“The whole Paralympic movement is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Siamand Rahman,” he said.
“Siamand was a pioneer for his sport, an inspiration for many in his home country, Iran, and around the world, and a fantastic ambassador for the Paralympic movement.
“He was also a wonderful human being, a gentle giant and one of the friendliest people you could ever meet.”
The Paralympic Movement has lost a true star and a sporting great. Iran’s Siamand Rahman was an outstanding athlete, the first Paralympian to lift over 300kg. A gentle giant of a man, a tremendous ambassador and great company. So sad that to learn of his death. #SiamandRahman pic.twitter.com/TpSJYGwmqz— Craig Spence (@craigspence) March 1, 2020
RIP to the legend Siamand Rahman. The strongest Paralympian ever https://t.co/zKDLNYxvFU— Louise Sugden (@louisesugden13) March 1, 2020
We have some very sad news to bring you. Iran’s two-time Paralympic champion powerlifter Siamand Rahman has died aged 31.— Paralympic Games (@Paralympics) March 1, 2020
We are shocked and saddened and send our deepest condolences to his friends, family and teammates. pic.twitter.com/lGmmPpcCo1
The whole Paralympic Movement is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Siamand Rahman. The thoughts and deepest condolences of the whole IPC, World Para Powerlifting and the Paralympic Movement are with Siamand’s family, friends and loved ones at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/vRgfhjjkjX— Andrew Parsons (@parsonsandrew) March 1, 2020