Iran’s Morteza Mehrzad was arguably the most noticed athlete at the Rio Paralympics, but the 8-foot, 1-inch sitting volleyball player was bothered by the attention, according to the International Paralympic Committee.
“I am not the whole team, I am only taller than the others,” Mehrzad said, according to the report.
Initial widespread media reports about the 29-year-old during the Rio Games quoted Iran’s coach, but not the player. Mehrzad’s backstory was compelling even without his input.
Mehrzad, the tallest person in his country, was noticed by an Iran sitting volleyball coach while appearing on TV about five years ago.
Mehrzad picked up the sport and in March made his first appearance for the national team at a major competition.
In Rio, he was the top scorer in the gold-medal match, a 3-1 win over defending Paralympic champion Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“From the moment of coming down from the podium in Rio, we should be thinking about Tokyo,” Mehrzad said, according to the IPC.
At age 16, while already clear of 6 feet tall, Mehrzad fell off his bike and suffered a pelvis injury. It caused his right leg to stop growing, so it is now about six inches shorter than his left leg.Follow @nbcolympictalk