Mohammadian not worried about facing world-class rivals

TEHRAN, Apr. 24 (MNA) – Iranian freestyle wrestler Mohammadhossein Mohammadian says he is not worried about facing famous foreign or Iranian wrestlers and is just thinking about the Olympics.

Mohammadian, 28, has experienced many ups and downs during his professional career in wrestling; four years of suspension by the United World Wrestling, gaining a commanding gold in Italy, and now the world-wide pause on sporting events due to the pandemic are just part of what he has gone through. However, he has never abandoned the dream of competing in the Olympics.

“I went through four bitter unforgettable years; I was suspended from wrestling due to a mistake. Perhaps, if they were in my shoes, many wrestlers would have abandoned the sport but I stayed and focused on my aim and carried out constant training,” Mohammadian told Mehr News Agency.

The four-year suspension came after Mohammadian tested positive for a powerful anabolic steroid. Both him and Iranian wrestling federation officials stressed that they were not aware of the nature of the drug. The wrestler had broken his ankle nearly eight months earlier and sought treatment from a doctor that was not a party to the federation’s medical committees. And the doctor purportedly prescribed a drug for the quick recovery of Mohammadian’s bone tissue fracture, and the medicine contained substances subject to anti-doping regulations.

However, right after his suspension ended, he stunned the wrestling community in Matteo Pellicone, in January 2020. He downed all his rivals, including Olympics gold medalist USA’s Kyle Snyder, to gain the gold medal of the event without even giving other opportunities to collect a point.

“Fortunately, my suspension ended last [Iranian calendar] year and after some time I managed to achieve good results in camps and in Italy,” said the 2014 World Championships bronze medalist, noting that he is “Just thinking about the Olympics” and even the cancelation of national team’s camps has not halted his training and efforts.

Referring to the one-year postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, he said that “Overall, this is to my advantage because I can train more and wrestle in more domestic and foreign events.”

Asked about his mindset about rivals at 97kg category, the 2015 Asian Champion answered “There are many fierce rivals in this weight category; of course, I have taken on some of them earlier and feel no worry about facing them … I will never be influenced by the name of foreign wrestlers and will show whatever I know on the mat.”

Iran freestyle team has so far secured three quotas to the Olympics in 57kg, 86kg, and 130kg. Mohammdian’s category, 97kg, is among the three remaining categories that are still void of Iranian wrestlers. He is also seeing serious rivals inside Iran. Alireza Karimi is one of them; he underwent successful knee surgery last week and will be ready for action in a few months. Mojtaba Goleij, the two-time U23 world champion, is also another challenger at this weight.

Meanwhile, Mohammadian is benefiting from experiences of his father, Askari Mohammadian, who is one of the most notable Iranian wrestlers with two silver Olympics medals on his collection.

“I don't have any problem with the cancelation of camps as I’m training with my father, a renowned Iranian and world champion,” he stressed.

Interview by Alireza Honarmanesh

Translation and reporting by Mohammad Ali Haqshenas

News Code 157974

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