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Iranian cyclist wins Keirin gold at Asian Games - and gets excused military service

21-year-old Mohammad Daneshvarkhourram says his mother was in tears after victory in South Korea

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.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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