Rio Janeiro, Sep 18: An Iranian Paralympic cyclist was killed in a road race crash, casting a tragic shadow over the Rio Games on the eve of Sunday’s closing ceremony.
Bahman Golbarnezhad, 48, fell during the event Saturday and died of his injuries despite an attempt to take him to the hospital for treatment, officials said.
The cyclist, who wore a prosthesis on his left leg, took up the sport in 2002 and had also competed at the London 2012 Paralympics.
It was the first ever death of an athlete during the Games, International Paralympics Committee (IPC) president Philip Craven told journalists.
Golbarnezhad’s accident occurred during the more than two-hour C4-5 road race for athletes with varying disabilities but still able to bicycle.
He was in the first section of a mountainous descent when he fell.
“The athlete received treatment at the scene and was in the process of being taken to the athlete hospital when he suffered a cardiac arrest,” the IPC said in a statement.
“The ambulance then diverted to the nearby Unimed Rio Hospital in Barra where he passed away soon after arrival.”
Paralympic officials said Golbarnezhad’s family in Iran had been informed and the Iranian team was also told the news during a meeting at the Athletes’ Village.
He had been competing in one of the last contests before the Games ended Sunday for a closing ceremony in the Maracana football stadium.
Officials said that a minute of silence would be observed during the ceremony where Brazil will symbolically hand over to Tokyo, host of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
Organisers said that the show in the famous football stadium will feature the best of Brazil’s rich music and dance culture in a celebration of what many say have been a surprisingly successful Rio Games.AFP