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THE FIRST REFUGEE PARA ATHLETE

THE FIRST REFUGEE PARA ATHLETE

Hadi Hassanzada is the first refugee para taekwondo athlete to compete at an international competition under the flag of the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation. With refugee athletes now able to participate in the Paralympics, and Para Taekwondo being on the program for this world class event’s next edition in Tokyo in 2020, the THF is set to support Hadi’s evolution in the sport. Read his inspirational story below.

Hadi Hassanzada was born in Afghanistan in the early 90’s. His parents left the country to Iran when Hadi was just 8 years old, escaping from the armed conflict that bombed their house and costed their son his right arm.

 

After a troubled early life, growing up in another country with limited possibilities for a member of a minority with a physical impairment, Hadi Hassanzada searched for a better life again in his homeland but couldn’t find it.

 

Being only 20 years old, he left alone, on foot, his parents home and headed west in search of a better life, in search of peace and freedom. It took Hadi over one year to reach Austria, after a long wait in Turkey, he found hope in Vienna.

 

Hadi was always a very active young man and played football in a local club in Iran. His passion for sports was a dream he could follow in Austria, integrating the Special Needs Team from the Rapid Wien Football Club. His coach, noticing that Hadi had unusual physical abilities, asked a Para Taekwondo coach to train him even further.

 

His talents were immediately placed to a good use. Hadi joined the Para Taekwondo and Taekwondo Club Yong Du from Vienna and was soon competing internationally.

 

After winning gold in Bratislava Open, Hadi started a dedicated physical and technical training program in the Wien Taekwondo Leistungszentrum (Training Centre from the ASKÖ Wien Sports Organisation) and with the Austrian Taekwondo Federation National Team at their regional Training Centres.

 

Hadi Hassanzada competed at the European Championships in Para Taekwondo Class K42 under 61kg, with the support of the Austrian Taekwondo Federation, the Booyoung Group, Daedo and the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation.