Record breakers: Siamand Rahman – the strongest man

Gold medallist Siamand Rahman of Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates on the podium during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Photo by Raphael Dias/Getty Images)
Gold medallist Siamand Rahman of Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates on the podium during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Photo by Raphael Dias/Getty Images)

It’s not often the world gets to witness an incredible athlete like Siamand Rahman.

The late Paralympian became the first powerlifter to break the 300kg barrier, lifting 310kg at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games securing back-to-back gold medals.

Speaking to Tokyo 2020 in December 2017, the Paralympic champion said he was hopeful of “breaking the world record” at the Games. The Islamic Republic of Iran athlete was looking to continue his dominance at the Tokyo 2020 Games with a record-breaking third consecutive Paralympic title.

Unfortunately, in March this year, at the age of 31 he passed away in his hometown of Oshnavieh.

"Siamand was a pioneer for his sport, an inspiration for many in his home country, Iran, and around the world, and a fantastic ambassador for the Paralympic movement,” said International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons.

"He was also a wonderful human being, a gentle giant and one of the friendliest people you could ever meet."

Becoming the strongest man in Paralympic history

While many came to learn the name Siamand Rahman at London 2012, where he became the strongest man in Paralympic history, his journey had started four years prior.

The then teenager started his powerlifting career in February 2008, but it wasn’t until the 2010 World Championships in Kuala Lumpur that he took to the senior world stage competing in the men’s +100kg category and taking home a silver medal.

Then just five months later at the Asian Para Games, Rahman would set a world record lifting 287.5kg to secure gold. And in the lead up to London 2012, he continued to break records.

In London, he broke the Paralympic record with a lift of 280kg, a mark that previously belonged to fellow Iranian powerlifter Kazem Rajabi Golojeh.

Siamand Rahman of the Islamic Republic of Iran reacts after making a successful lift during the Men's +100 kg Powerlifting at the London 2012 Paralympic Games
Siamand Rahman of the Islamic Republic of Iran reacts after making a successful lift during the Men's +100 kg Powerlifting at the London 2012 Paralympic Games
Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

However, perhaps one of Rahman’s greatest achievements came at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The then 28-year-old had kept on-lookers and media on their toes as to whether or not he would attempt 300kg.

Rahman, who was in the 107kg+ category, started the competition off with 270kg before his second lift saw him successfully make 300kg with green lights appeared from the judges. He came out again, clearing 305kg but wasn’t finished and incredibly, Rahman along with his team decided to go for 310kg in the fourth and final attempt.

The crowd at the Riocentro erupted into cheers when it was confirmed he had successfully made the lift.

Tokyo 2020 campaign

As part of Tokyo 2020’s campaign highlighting outstanding Paralympic athletes alongside iconic Tokyo landmarks, Rahman featured in the final campaign visual.

He was pictured in front of the Kabukiza Theatre in Ginza, which is the home to kabuki, a traditional Japanese theatre form with over 400 years of history.

“It's great to be part of this awesome campaign. We are only one year out from Paralympic Games and I am so excited to see we are getting closer to the Games,” said Rahman.

“I can't wait to compete in Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. In Tokyo, everything is going to be between the bar and me. I will redraw the boundaries.”

Honouring his legacy

After Rahman’s passing in March, Iran’s National Paralympic Committee planted a sapling in his memory.

“Siamand was known for his chivalry and sportsmanship and I think he is a role model for the other Iranian athletes. Siamand will be missed forever,” Iran’s chef de mission for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Hadi Rezaei told the Tehran Times.

A statue of the Paralympic champion was also erected in his hometown, Oshnavieh.

There is no doubt Rahman has become an inspiration to many athletes around the world. His ability to push the boundaries and limits, has left a lasting legacy not just the Paralympic Movement but sport as whole.