A 41-year old Iranian male nurse, who honed his skills to shoot with an air pistol in a hospital basement, earned Iran its first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.

Javad Foroughi, the first-time Olympian, set a new Olympic record of 244.8 points in men’s 10m air pistol event, clinching the first shooting gold for Iran in Olympic history.

The oldest member of the Iranian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics, Foroughi held his nerve to romp home victorious in the thrilling final, with Serbia’s Damir Mikec claiming silver, and China’s Pang Wei winning bronze.

Soon after firing the winning shot at the Asaka Shooting Range, Foroughi took out a small prayer mat and went into prostration, an answer to years of his prayers.

Notably, Foroughi has had no formal training in professional shooting, and developed an interest in the sport only in past few years. He also suffers from a mitral valve disease that can potentially lead to heart failure.

At a post-match press conference, Foroughi said he always dreamt of the Olympic gold, and even put the medal as his profile picture and knew “how much it weighs”.

A medical practitioner at Tehran’s Baqiyatullah Hospital, he also spoke of myriad challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought for him, forcing him to practice at home for months.

Pertinently, in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, the 41-year old shooter had won the gold medal in ISSF World Cup in Croatia.

National hero

Foroughi’s win has brought a big cheer to people in Iran who have been grappling with a fifth wave of COVID-19 pandemic. Soon after the news broke out, fans took to social media to celebrate the historic win.

Author and translator Sadegh Al Hosseini termed it a “miracle”, which he said has “shaken the dust of sorrow from the face of people (in Iran)”.

Journalist Mohammad Padash described him as a “national hero” and “defender of the health”, the title used for frontline healthcare workers in Iran.

Former minister Sayed Mohammad Hosseini hailed him as the “country’s hero” who with his record-breaking effort “made hearts of the people happy”.

Parliament Speaker Baqar Ghalibaf also congratulated Foroughi, terming his feat as “gratifying and joyful”.

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