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 has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.