Radio Free Iraq
has an interesting story on their website
about Iraq's paralympic team, which took home a surprising 20 medals (including five gold, five silver, and 10 bronze) at the 2009 Czech Open Athletic Championships
, which were held in Olomouc, Czech Republic, from August 21-23.
Although teams from 20 European nations participated, Iraq was the only Arab country to send a delegation to the competition. Despite not having a very well-developed paralympic athletics program, the Iraqi team's results were topped by delegations from just three other nations -- Poland, Great Britain, and the host Czech Republic.
Greeting the team upon their return to Baghdad, Iraqi athletic officials noted that despite a lack of resources, the Iraqi delegation was able to compete with athletes from European nations known for their excellent paralympic sports programs, such as Britain, Ireland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Canada.
They also used the occasion to call on the Iraqi government to build new facilities and training centers for Iraq's paralympic athletes.
Iraq's gold medals were won in various classes of the men's 100m, men's 400m, men's 200m, men's shotput, and men's long jump.
The Iraqi women's team also took a silver in women's shotput and a bronze in women's discus. The full results of the competition are here.
-- Alex Mayer