Hamoon Derafshipour’s Olympic desires started in Iran, then blossomed in Canada.
Now, the karate star will compete as a member of the Olympic Refugee Crew on the Tokyo Video games.
And if he climbs the medal podium, Derafshipour says it is going to be bittersweet to see the Olympic flag go up for him.
“In fact, I am so unhappy about it,” Derafshipour mentioned of not competing for Iran. “However I’ve a aim, and proper now Canada is my nation.”
WATCH | Derafshipour prepares for Tokyo Video games with spouse, coach Samira Malekipour:
The 28-year-old and his spouse Samira Malekipour, who’s additionally his coach, left Iran in 2019 for Kitchener, Ont., as he has cousins in close by Waterloo. In an interview, Derafshipour declined to speak about his causes for leaving Iran over concern for relations who nonetheless reside within the nation.
Derafshipour was born in Kermanshah, close to the Iran/Iraq border. Malekipour, who was the 2010 Asian Video games bronze medallist, was teaching Iran’s ladies’s staff when the 2 met. They married, and opened a karate academy in Iran in 2017.
The 2 got here to Canada simply earlier than COVID-19 hit, making for a troublesome 15 months in Kitchener. Whereas Derafshipour labored at Driftwood Martial Arts in Kitchener, the pandemic protocols meant the health club has been closed throughout Ontario’s lockdowns. He is since labored for automotive firm, after which raised cash by means of a GoFundMe web page for a six-week coaching camp in Istanbul, his present base.
“Canada is for newcomers, however we began life a bit completely different . . . it was a tough, onerous state of affairs due to the COVID,” he mentioned. “However proper now, we’re going to Olympics, and we’re comfortable, we’re at all times telling ourselves, ‘We’re going to Tokyo to convey my medal again to residence, Canada. We’ll have a look at the Olympics like this.”
Refugee staff for Tokyo Video games
If COVID-19 laws enable athletes to march within the July 23 opening ceremonies, the Refugee Crew will stroll behind the Olympic flag. The staff options athletes in 12 sports activities, from 13 host Nationwide Olympic Committees.
The Canadian Olympic Committee is taken into account the host NOC for Derafshipour, and related him with Karate Canada for coaching and assist functions, and helped information him by means of his Visa software course of.
To be chosen for the Refugee Crew, athletes should be acknowledged refugees or beneficiaries of worldwide safety based on the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) company, plus have confirmed high-level competitors leads to their sport.
Objectives set for Tokyo
Derafshipour, who received bronze on the 2018 world championships, mentioned Malekipour is vital to his success. They’ve lofty targets for Tokyo.
“On a regular basis at residence we’re speaking about sport, speaking about karate, speaking about Olympics, as a result of I consider I used to be born to go to Olympics and [get] outcomes,” Derafshipour mentioned. “I consider that, Samira is aware of that, I am not excited to go solely so we are able to say ‘Oh, right here is Olympics.’
“We wish to go to go to the Olympics for outcomes, for a medal.”