Friday, August 22, 2008

Hadi Saei flutters Iranian flag

hadi-saei.jpg

The world's all-time most successful Iranian taekwondo fighter Hadi Saei has claimed Beijing Olympics men's welterweight gold medal by beating Italy's Mauro Sarmiento.

In the Friday men's -80kg final, the Iranian world and Olympic champion beat the European bronze medalist to win his second Olympic taekwondo gold medal and Iran's first gold medal in the Beijing Olympic Games.

Saei, who stepped up to welterweight after winning the -68kg Olympic gold in Athens, lost the first round 4-2 after the 6-foot-5-inches Sarmiento stunned the Iranian with a two-point axe kick to the head.

Saei battled back in the second round and managed to tie the score at 4-4 with roundhouse kicks to his opponents left side.

The 32-year-old Saei attacked first in the third round to score two points and secure a 6-4 victory in a stunning-comeback fashion.

Sarmiento, who had earlier defeated American champion Steven Lopez in the quarterfinals, raised Saei's hand to congratulate the veteran.

The four-time world champion Lopez and China's Zhu Guo, who was earlier beaten by Saei, each captured a bronze medal.

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