Afghan athlete Hossain Rasouli sets personal best in men’s long jump at the Paralympics days after escaping his country

Rasouli arrived in Tokyo on August 28, a day after his he was to compete in the 100m T47 event. The IPC allowed him to take part in the long jump instead.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Athletics - Men's Long Jump - T47 Final - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - August 31, 2021. Hossain Rasouli of Afghanistan in action REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Athletics - Men's Long Jump - T47 Final - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - August 31, 2021. Hossain Rasouli of Afghanistan in action REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Afghanistan athlete Hossain Rasouli made his eagerly-anticipated appearance at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics on Tuesday at the Olympic Stadium as he recorded a new personal best distance in the men’s long jump T47 event.

Rasouli, 26, is one of two Afghan athletes at the Paralympics alongside taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi, 22, who competes in the women’s K44 -49kg weight category in taekwondo on 2 September at the Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba.

The Afghanistan delegation arrived in Tokyo on Saturday having fled their Taliban-controlled home city of Kabul to stay in Paris to complete their final preparations for the Paralympics. The IPC initially announced that the team would not compete in Tokyo due to the situation in Afghanistan before the Paralympic world governing body was among a number of global organisations to aid their secret escape from Afghanistan.

Former footballer Rasouli, whose left hand was amputated as the result of a mine explosion, was due to compete in the in the men’s 100m T47 race, which took place on the 27 August but the IPC approved a late switch to take part in the long jump T47 event as he only arrived in Japan on 28 August.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Athletics - Men's Long Jump - T47 Final - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - August 31, 2021. Hossain Rasouli of Afghanistan enters the stadium REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Athletics - Men's Long Jump - T47 Final - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - August 31, 2021. Hossain Rasouli of Afghanistan enters the stadium REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

The Afghan competitor produced a respectable display to set a new personal best distance of 4.46m to finish 13th in a highly-competitive event which was won by Cuban Robiel Yankiel Sol Cervantes who recorded a jump of 7.46m.

America’s Roderick Townsend took silver with a distance of 7.43m while Nikita Kotukov of the Russian Paralympic Committee claimed bronze.

Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medalist in both the high jump and long jump, Townsend, said: “When I first looked at the heat sheets I think there were 12 people jumping. When they finally released the jumping order there were 13.

“I saw his name on there. With everything going on right now I couldn’t help but to feel joy for him.

“We get so caught up in our personal lives, and I am here complaining about a silver medal and (yet) we have somebody making their way across the world to be able to do something we all love to do.

“That says so much about what the Paralympic Games really means and what it stands for.”

The Afghanistan team, who were represented by a volunteer who served as the country’s flagbearer during the opening ceremony, have received a special exemption from the IPC to skip media duties at Tokyo 2020 and are not required to pass through the mixed zone in their respective events.

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