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Covid-19: Iran's star discus thrower Ehsan Hadadi recounts how a minuscule virus brought life in perspective

New Delhi, April 19: Iran's star discus thrower Ehsan Hadadi has recovered successfully from coronavirus infection and the Olympic medallist athlete is now recounting the harrowing experience with the deadly disease.

The 35-year-old pathbreaking athlete from Iran sent ripples across the sporting fraternity after testing positive for the Covid-19 virus last month. Hadadi - a silver medallist at 2012 London Olympics - testing positive broke the myth that healthy persons wouldn't fall prey to this pandemic.

A legend for his country, Hadadi won Iran their first-ever Olympic medal in the discus throw. He is also Iran's first-ever medalist at the IAAF World Championships where he won a bronze medal in the 2011 edition.

A day after his father tested positive, the towering figure at 6 ft 4 inches and weighing around 135 kg, too had tested positive.

While recounting his experience while getting treated in the quarantine in Tehran, the athlete told the Indian Express, "I have never felt so weak before. It was hurting all over. Only three days earlier, I had a good training session. I was feeling good."

Iran is one of the worst coronavirus affected countries in the world, with the World Health Organisation recording over 60,000 confirmed cases in the country and 3,739 deaths (as on April 17).

The athlete, who has defied several odds and opponents in his illustrious career, stated he'd never imagined that something so minuscule would trouble him so much for he could lift 120 kg without breaking a sweat.

"I am so huge and strong that I never imagined that something so tiny could trouble me so much. Maybe, I needed to be 145 kg. Probably then the virus wouldn't have affected me," he gathered the thoughts with a chuckle.

Recounting the first 10 days of his life in the quarantine, the athlete said, "For the first 10 days, it was very difficult. But I told myself I could fight it. I told my father that athletes are healthy people. We are training all the time, all we need is a few days to recover." But he was proven wrong as the virus kept making things worse. "I remember on the sixth day of my quarantine, I was feeling out of breath. I kept telling myself it will get better and, slowly, it did," he added.

Hadadi and his family will undergo another test this week to ensure that they are in the clear. The solitude in the quarantine, however, gave the athlete some time to think about life. It also gave him a new perspective on sporting glory.

While reflecting on this period he said, "When I was in bed, I thought a lot about life. I realised how feeble it is. You could be healthy one day and die the next day. Running after achievements isn't the only purpose of life. You need to be a good human being. That is what counts in the end."

He had been aiming to win a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and break the record for the longest discus throw this year before the global pandemic threw all plans awry. The quadrennial event has been postponed for a year and will now be held in 2021.

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Story first published: Sunday, April 19, 2020, 16:29 [IST]
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