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Inspiring stories made at London Olympics

One of six athletes representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the London Olympics, Rohullah Nikpai won a bronze medal in Men’s Taekwondo. Nikpai lost one match in the tournament, but earned a second shot, having a total of three victories. This is Afghanistan’s second ever Olympic medal, the previous also won by Nikpai, at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Nikpai, a hero both to upcoming athletes in the nation and to the general public who can view his victories as signs of progress, has led to a taekwondo boom in Afghanistan with roughly 25,000 practitioners in hundreds of clubs.

The London Olympics served as a platform for inspiration in Afghanistan as all six athletes gave their best efforts and put their hearts into the spirit of competition and international brotherhood. One of the many success stories was that of Tahmina Kohistani, who proudly represented Afghan women. While not able to medal, she ran a personal best in the 100 meters. Kohistani now plans to make sports clubs for female aspirants. Nesar Bahawi, who was also favored as a potential medalist in Taekwondo, was unable to secure a medal in the bronze medal match, but he had been fighting injured. These injuries required him to go to the hospital after the match, nonetheless, his bravery and spirit pushed him through the final competition.

H.E. President Hamid Karzai telephoned the athletes in London the final days of the Olympics London Friday to congratulate Nikpai and his compatriots. His sentiments echoed those of the entire nation: elation and gratitude.