An Iranian track cyclist who won a gold medal at the Asian Games in South Korea this weekend has been rewarded by his country in a singular way – he’s been excused compulsory military service, much to his mother’s relief.
Mohammad Daneshvarkhourram took on and beat some of Asia’s top track cyclists to win the Keirin in Incheon following a photo finish.
Competitors included Malaysia’s Azizul Awang defending champion, and overall winner of the Keirin in the 2008/09 UCI Track Cycling World Cup.
The 21-year-old student told AFP: "I called my mum afterwards and she couldn't say anything. All I could hear was crying!"
He added that he was “100 per cent” happy not to have to join the army now as a result of his gold medal.
Ranked number 235 in the world in the discipline, he said he has his sights set higher.
"I'm only 21 years old, this is my first Asian Games and I got a medal – I think I can be one of the best in the world," he explained.
Kazunari Watanabe of Japan – where Keirin racing was devised and remains hugely popular, took silver.
Malaysia’s Josiah Ng won bronze after his compatriot Awang was disqualified for riding into the sprinter’s lane already occupied by a rival cyclist.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.