Asylum seeker claims top taekwondo prize

Hamid Shirvani, 43, from Iran, has taken out one of the top categories at the NSW Taekwondo State Championships and now hopes to pass on his skills as a coach.

“Taekwondo is something that I grew-up doing,” Mr Shirvani said through an interpreter, “it is part of my life and I will always be practicing it. This is what I have dedicated my life to. I have years of experience and I think I can teach and improve taekwondo in Australia.”

“Taekwondo is something that I grew-up doing,” Mr Shirvani said through an interpreter, “it is part of my life and I will always be practicing it. This is what I have dedicated my life to. I have years of experience and I think I can teach and improve taekwondo in Australia.”

Mr Shirvani lives with his wife and baby daughter in South Wentworthville. The family fled Iran about a year ago and is awaiting the outcome of their assessments for refugee status. This means Mr Shirvani is unable to work and has limited access to the training resources that other taekwondo competitors could afford.

But this didn’t stop him winning a gold medal in the open men’s 80 to 87 kilogram black belt category at the State Championships on May 11.

Mr Shirvani is no stranger to success in taekwondo. The sport is much more popular in Iran, where there is a professional league of taekwondo. Mr Shirvani said he was a top-five contender in the country’s professional competition for 10 years. He won several national tournaments, he said, and qualified for international events but was never allowed to leave Iran.

Now in Australia, he hopes to pass on the skills he has learned over 30 years of training and coaching in the sport. “Taekwondo is something that I grew-up doing,” he said through an interpreter, “it is part of my life and I will always be practicing it. This is what I have dedicated my life to. I have years of experience and I think I can teach and improve taekwondo in Australia.”

Mr Shirvani said he hoped to soon start training with a club at Parramatta PCYC, where he wants to work as a volunteer coach. Mr Shirvani and his family are provided case work support by Settlement Services International (SSI) while their refugee status is being determined.

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said Mr Shirvani had shown a desire to give back to his new community.

“Mr Shirvani desperately wants to help other people who share his passion for taekwondo by passing on his knowledge and skills,” she said. “Because he is unable to work while in Australia on a bridging visa, he is looking for opportunities to volunteer his time and expertise. His dedication, work ethic and community spirit are admirable qualities for any citizen to have.” 

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