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News and Views

Afghanistan Wins First Ever Olympic Medal

Rohullah Nikpai won Afghanistan's first ever Olympic medal on August 20, gaining a Bronze Medal in the 58 kg. taekwondo competition. President Hamid Karzai called Nikpai, who is 21, to congratulate him, telling him he had brought pride to Afghanistan.

After defeating German fighter Levent Tuncat in the Round of 16, Nikpai fell to Mexican Guillermo Perez before emerging victorious over Britain's Michael Harvey and Spain's Juan Antonio Ramos. Because of taekwondo's scoring rules, Nikpai will share the medal with Mu-Yen Chu from Chinese Tai-Pei.

Taekwondo, a martial art that traces its roots to South Korea, has gained popularity in Afghanistan in recent years. According to the Afghan Taekwondo Federation, there are 700 clubs with 25,000 members throughout the country. Afghanistan's second taekwondo Olympic competitor, Nesar Ahmad Bahawi, will participate in the 68 kg. contest on August 21.

Though Afghanistan has participated in the Olympic Games on 11 prior occasions, the country's best result was a fifth-place finish in freestyle wrestling in 1964. This year four Afghan athletes are participating in the games in Beijing; Nikpai and Bahawi are joined by sprinters Masood Azizi and Robina Muqimyar.

"After more than 30 years of war in Afghanistan, I think this medal is a very great message for peace and the future of Afghanistan," said Nikpai.

Related News: Afghanistan's First Olympic Medalist Pride of Nation (AFP)

                      President Karzai and Four Afghan Athletes Attend Olympic Games

                      Afghanistan Pins its Medal Hopes on Taekwondo (AFP)

                      Afghan Taekwondo Champ Aims for Olympic Glory (NPR)

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