Jul 25, 2021 - Sports

Iranian defector defeats Iranian in taekwondo at Tokyo Olympics

Refugee Olympic Team's Kimia Alizadeh Zonoozi after winning her Olympic Women's -57KG Round of 16 match against Great Britain's Jade Jones  in Japan, Sunday

Refugee Olympic Team's Kimia Alizadeh celebrates after winning her Women's -57KG Round of 16 match against Great Britain's Jade Jones at Makuhari Messe Hall at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan Sunday. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

Kimia Alizadeh narrowly missed winning the Refugee Olympic Team's first Games medal, in the bronze match — hours after defeating a two-time Olympic gold medalist and also the favorite to win the 57-kilogram taekwondo division Sunday.

The big picture: Alizadeh, Iran's Rio Games bronze medalist who defected to Germany last year, defeated Iranian friend Nahid Kiyani 18-9, then Great Britain's Jade Jones 16-12 and then contest favorite Zhou Lijun, of China, 9-8.

  • Alizadeh was seen hugging Kiani's coach after their match.
  • Her 10-3 semi-final loss to Russian Tatiana Minina set her up for a bronze medal match later in the evening. But she lost 6-8 to Turkey's Hatice Kubra Ilgun.

Flashback: Alizadeh criticized Iran's government in a 2020 Instagram post announcing her defection.

  • "They took me wherever they wanted. I wore whatever they said," she wrote in Farsi, per a translation by the New York Times.
  • "Every sentence they ordered me to say, I repeated. Whenever they saw fit, they exploited me."

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of Alizadeh's loss to Minina and to include her comment announcing her decision to leave Iran. The article has been corrected to note that Alizadeh's Instagram post was written in Farsi.

Go deeper