In one of the most beautiful stories of humanity to ever have existed, an Iranian Olympian just dedicated his silver medal to Israel. Saeid Mollaei is a former Iranian judoka who now represents the Mongolia team and just won the silver medal in the men’s 81-kilogram division after losing the gold to Japan’s Takanori Nagase.
Foreign Desk News reports on the touching story:
Mollaei represented Mongolia to win his first Olympic medal after leaving Iran two years ago after it was reported that his coaches had instructed him to lose in the 2019 semifinals at the World Championships in Tokyo only to prevent him from going up against Israeli opponent, Sagi Muki, in the final, according to The Times of Israel.
After this incident, Mollaei moved to Germany and then became a Mongolian citizen.
Coincidently, Mollaei and his would-be Israeli opponent, Muki, became friends after the 2019 World Championship incident, offering each other support.
“I’m super happy for Saeid,” Muki said in a press conference of Israeli reporters Tuesday.
“I know what he’s gone through, and how much he wanted it. He’s a very close friend of mine, and I’m so happy that he succeeded in achieving his dream. He deserves it — his journey is incredibly inspiring.”
In his dedication, Mollaei told the Israeli Sports Channel, “Thank you to Israel for the good energy. This medal is dedicated also to Israel. I hope the Israelis are happy with this win.”
Two Olympians, representing Sudan and Algeria, have recently bowed out of the current Games in order to not compete against Israel’s Tohar Butbul. Muki placed ninth in this week’s competition, and the story of the two athletes’ unlikely friendship is under development for television by Israel’s Tadmor Entertainment and MGM.