Para-cyclist's death casts pall over Games

Cyclist Sarafraz Bahman Golbarnezhad of Iran shortly after the start of the men's road race C4-5. He died on Saturday after crashing during the race and suffering a subsequent cardiac arrest.
Cyclist Sarafraz Bahman Golbarnezhad of Iran shortly after the start of the men's road race C4-5. He died on Saturday after crashing during the race and suffering a subsequent cardiac arrest.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

RIO DE JANEIRO • Iranian cyclist Sarafraz Bahman Golbarnezhad has died after crashing in the C4-5 event on Saturday at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics.

It is the first such death at the Games since they began in 1960, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has said.

"The IPC (confirms) that Golbarnezhad, 48, was involved in a crash at around 10.40am on the first section of the Grumari loop, a mountainous stretch of the course," the IPC said.

"The athlete received treatment at the scene and was in the process of being taken to the athlete hospital when he suffered a cardiac arrest. The ambulance diverted to the nearby Unimed Rio Hospital in Barra da Tijuca where he passed away soon after arrival."

An investigation into the accident has been launched.

"As far as we're aware it is the first fatal accident in a Paralympics," the IPC's director of communications Craig Spence said.

It was Golbarnezhad's second race in Rio. He finished 14th in the C4 time trial on Wednesday.

The cyclist took up the sport in 2002 and also participated at the London 2012 Paralympics.

"He was an exemplary Paralympic sportsman who, with love and energy, tried his best to promote the name of Iran and to make all of us proud and at the end he gave his life for this," said Golbarnezhad's national Paralympic Committee.

"All members of the Iranian cultural and sports camp here express condolences to his family and the Iranian nation. The name of Bahman Golbarnezhad will be inscribed in the proud history of Iranian Paralympics."

The Iranian flag has been lowered to half-mast in the Athletes' Village.

The Paralympic flag was also flown at half-mast in the Village and at the Riocentro venue where Iran played Bosnia in the sitting volleyball final yesterday.

"This is truly heartbreaking news and the thoughts and condolences of the whole Paralympic movement are with Bahman's family, friends and team-mates as well as the whole of the National Paralympic Committee of Iran," said IPC president Philip Craven.

"The Paralympic family is united in grief at this horrendous tragedy which casts a shadow over what has been a great Paralympic Games here in Rio."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2016, with the headline 'Para-cyclist's death casts pall over Games'. Print Edition | Subscribe