The world’s second-tallest man Morteza Mehrzad has inspired Iran’s sitting volleyball
team to gold at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Mehrzad, all of 8ft1, helped the Iranians defeat the Russian Paralympic Committee
3-1 in the gold medal match on Saturday in the Japanese capital.
The tallest Paralympian in history, by a distance, helped guide them to a 25-21, 25-
14, 19-25, 25-17 win and continue their recent domination of the sport.
Iran has won six of the last eight gold medals in the men’s competition, and the
addition of the 2.46m 33-year-old phenomenon gave the country a special weapon in
a sport where the net is 1.15m off the ground.
After seeing off powerhouses Bosnia and Herzegovina in the semi-finals, Mehrzad
scored an almighty 28 points in the final, helping secure their 11th gold of the Games
despite dropping their first set in five matches.
He started playing after Iran coach Hadi Rezaeigarkani got in contact when he
watched him on a TV program about physical disorders. He took up the sport nine
years ago, made his international debut five years ago, and never looked back.
Mehrzad has acromegaly, a condition where one’s body produces too much growth
hormone and is often on crutches or in a wheelchair after damaging his pelvis in a
cycling accident which means his right leg is six inches shorter than his left.
According to the Telegraph, he would hide away in his hometown Chalus in
north Iran due to shame; the Paralympics has therefore offered him a powerful
He said: ‘Due to my impairment, I was very depressed. I felt like I was in prison – I
was afraid to go outside due to my appearance. I could never imagine a future for
myself. But sitting volleyball has had an immense impact on my life.’