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Taekwondo Hero Nekpa Wins An Olympics Medal Again

  • RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan

Afghanistan's bronze-medal-winning Olympian Rohullah Nekpa

Afghanistan's bronze-medal-winning Olympian Rohullah Nekpa

Afghan Taekwondo hero Rohullah Nekpa has won bronze in the men's under-68-kilogram category.

The 25-year-old Nekpa defeated Britain's Martin Stamper 5-3. He achieved the victory by consistently hitting his opponent's head with his feet.

Nekpa is the first athlete from Afghanistan to win an Olympic medal in London.

In 2008, he became a national hero in Afghanistan by winning bronze at Beijing -- the first Olympic medal ever for an Afghan athlete.

After his win, Nekpa told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that he was proud of his achievement for his country:

"I am glad that I will return home with full hands," he said. "I congratulate my entire nation."

Nekpa told international media that he had hoped for the gold, but was happy to get the bronze, which is very significant for his country.

He thanked Afghan spectators for supporting him at a packed Excel arena.

Nekpa lost his quarter finals match to Iran's Mohammad Bagheri Motamed, who won silver on August 9. Turkey's Servet Tazegul won the gold while Terrence Jennings from the United States also won bronze in the category.

Nisar Ahmad Bahawi, another Afghan Taekwondo contender faces tough competition in the 80-kilogram category on August 10.

Nekpa was born in the central Wardak province of Afghanistan but learned Taekwondo in refugee camps in Iran. He returned to Afghanistan in 2004.

Before his medal in 2008, Afghanistan had participated in 10 Olympic Games since 1936 but had never won a medal.

After his win in the Beijing Olympics, Afghan President Hamid Karzai personally called Nekpa and awarded him a house and a car for winning the medal.

Thousands of fans had thronged at Kabul's airport to welcome their hero from Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Nekpa can once again expect a similar reception as he returns to his country next week.

With reporting by the BBC

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