Photo: Kyodo News
Morteza Mehrzad Selakjani’s name is synonymous to dominance in sitting volleyball. At 2.46m tall, Mehrzad is the second tallest man in the world and the tallest competitor at the Paralympic Games. But while his tall stance has been given the spotlight for most of his young career, the reigning Paralympic champion admits his height is just a portion of what team Iran is all about.
“It is very difficult for me. I’m just taller than the other members of the team, but all of the team is very important, they each play their role in the best way. I’m just a member, I also try to play in the best way,” Mehrzad said.
“Yes, my physical situation is very important for sitting volleyball. I’m just using my potential.”
Before suiting up for the Iranian national team, Mehrzad spent most of his time at home, not wanting to attract any attention. But his story changed when Mehrzad got the call up to represent his country.
“After I was on a TV program, the sitting volleyball programme asked me to join and it was like magic,” Mehrzad recalled.
“It changed my life a lot.”
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His career with the national team is relatively young, but was already a vital part of the Iranian squad that won its eighth Paralympic title at Rio 2016. Now, the 33-year-old is again ready to make his country proud as they try to extend their dominance at Tokyo 2020 with a sweep of their matches for another gold medal.
“There are lots of expectations from the sitting volleyball team of Iran. We have to win. We have to be the champions, because the Iranian people expect us to get the gold medal, so we have to do our best,” Mehrzad said.