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Tokyo Olympics: Iranian on course to win Refugee team's first medal

Kimia Alizadeh defeated a former Iranian teammate to reach the later rounds where she lost in the semi-finals
Describing her decision to leave Iran as "harder than earning Olympic Gold," Kimia Alizadeh criticised Iran for using her win in the Rio Olympics for propaganda purposes (Reuters)

Iranian Kimia Alizadeh inched closer to winning the Refugee Olympic Team's first-ever medal after beating tournament favourite Jade Jones from the UK and a former teammate in taekwondo. 

Alizadeh won her first match against fellow Iranian and former teammate Nahid Kiyani Chandeh, who is coached by Alizadeh's erstwhile instructor. She then defeated two-time gold Olympian Jones from Great Britain in the round of 16.

In the third match, Alizadeh went on to beat gold medal favourite Zhou Lijun from China in the quarter-finals.

The Iranian later lost to Russian Tatiana Minina in the semi-final round and will now compete to win one of the two bronze medals. 

The 23-year-old made history in the Rio 2016 Olympics when she became the first female to win an Olympic medal for Iran. 

But four years later Alizadeh left Iran for Germany, where she sought refugee status, and is now competing under the white flag of the Refugee Olympic Team.

Describing her decision to leave Iran as "harder than earning Olympic Gold," Alizadeh in an Instagram post announcing her defection criticised Iran for using her Olympic win in the Rio Olympics for propaganda purposes. 

"They took me wherever they wanted. I wore whatever they said. Every sentence they ordered me to say, I repeated. Whenever they saw fit, they exploited me," she said in the post, accompanied by a black-and-white photo of herself in a headscarf, holding her head in her hands while sporting her taekwando uniform.