In volleyball or conventional basketball, the difference in height between two athletes can be compensated for by jumping. If the shorter player has an easy vertical jump, he can block the taller one. But, in seated volleyball, which has contact with the ground as a premise, height, combined with arm span, makes all the difference. Even more so if a player is 60, 70, 80 centimeters taller than rivals.
Thus, it is not difficult to understand the success of Iran’s Morteza Mehrzadselakjani in seated volleyball. The athlete is an incredible 2.46m, which makes him the third tallest person in the world according to the Guinness Book. But he also has a handicap that causes his right leg to be six inches shorter than his left, which makes it difficult for him to stand upright, at least not without extra help.
Mehrzad, as he is known, suffers from acromegaly, a rare condition that causes overproduction of growth hormones and makes him so much larger than the average world population. When he was 15 years old, he sustained an injury to the pelvis region in a bicycle accident. The Iranian continued to grow, but with his right leg at a slower pace.
In addition to all the risks related to acromegaly, which include diabetes, hypertension and heart failure, Mehrzad came to live with the shame of leaving the house. Until his story was told, in 2011, in a television report and he reached the coaching staff of Iran’s seated volleyball team, which was already the best in the world and which, like all the others, was looking for athletes of great stature .
After Brazil started putting athletes with more than 1.80m to play and was successful in the sport, other countries adopted the same strategy. And a 2.46m player would, of course, be a great weapon. Through the television channel, the technical committee for the selection of seated volleyball even reached Mehrzad and convinced him to try.
“We gave him hope, that’s what he was looking for. Before he became famous, when he left home, he said that everyone looked at him with a strange face. Now that he’s famous, everyone wants to take a picture with him. a champion,” said coach Hadi Rezaei.
Mehrzad didn’t have any technique for playing sitting volleyball, so he had to learn everything. Become an athlete. When that happened, he became the best in the world, thanks mainly to his ability to attack over opponents’ blocks and to close the door to rival attacks with the block himself.
With him in the team, Iran won the gold in the Paralympics in Rio and is going to repeat the result in Tokyo. This Saturday (28), he scored 18 points in the victory by 3 sets to 0 over Germany, closing the game as the highest scorer of the match. Mehrzad was also the one who made the most attack points (14) and blocking points (four).
Brazil and Iran are in the same group of the Tokyo Paralympics, the B. Brazil debuted beating China, also this Saturday, and has its next commitment exactly against Mehrzad’s Iran. The match takes place on Monday (30), at 9:30 am (GMT).