Mohamadreza Ashori, 30, dreamt of competing at the Olympic Games, and still holds on to those hopes despite setbacks throughout his life. In May he won the 74 kilogram division at the Australia Cup of Wrestling. He would have qualified for the Commonwealth Games earlier in the year after success in other events, but he is not an Australian citizen.
Mohamadreza is seeking refugee protection in Australia and has lived in the community for about 12 months while his application is assessed. That means he is not eligible to compete in the Games. He has been supported by Settlement Services International’s (SSI) Community Support Program during that time.
SSI Manager, Humanitarian Services David Keegan said that despite the disappointment of Mohamadreza not being able to fulfil his potential, it was pleasing to see how he had been supported by the community. “Obviously Mohamadreza would be disappointed at not being in Glasgow, but he has made some positive connections with people in Sydney, which have helped him remain positive,” Mr Keegan said. “Those connections and that support are fundamental to the health and wellbeing of people like Mohamadreza who are seeking asylum.”
Mohamadreza still has his sights set on the 2016 Olympics. “Every day I’m running, bodybuilding, wrestling, all day,” he said speaking in English. “In future maybe I get citizenship and make next Olympics and get medal for Australia. Every day I will train four, five hours for the future.”
Sport is his passion but Mohamadreza didn’t put all of his eggs in that basket. He also has bachelor degrees in mechanical engineering and physical education, gained in his birth-country Iran. But his athletic talents shone through. In Iran he was a gold medalist four times in the national competition and he won a gold medal at the 2004 Asian Championships.
Despite his qualifications and talent, Mohamadreza said he could not continue to live in Iran. In Australia he cannot work while his application for refugee status is assessed.
Mohamadreza was unlikely to gain citizenship and qualify in time for the Games but his network of friends hoped he would. Nicole Ansty at Waves Fitness and Aquatic Centre in Baulkham Hills said the business had happily sponsored Mohamadreza.
“He came to us and said he was training for the Commonwealth Games but couldn’t get any support, so we helped,” Ms Ansty said. “He’s an awesome guy, everyone here loves him. He just goes out of his way to help people around the gym. When he went to Melbourne and won gold, he didn’t big note himself, he was still as humble as always.”
Photo: Huseyin Erzurumlu.
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