Tokyo 2020: Javanmardi ready to tackle anxiety & stress as she eyes gold medal
Iran’s two-time Paralympic champion Sareh Javanmardi believes that “anxiety and stress” will be her biggest challenges at the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, where she aims to repeat her Rio 2016 gold medal winning performances.
Considering the situation that the world is currently in due to the Covid 19 Pandemic, Javanmardi stressed that it is these two factors rather than the competitive field at the Asaka Shooting Range in Tokyo that she is most concerned about.
“These factors may have a negative impact on my performance. So, I am afraid of these internal elements rather than my competitors (shooters). I do believe that hard work ensures good results. And I am doing all the hard work and have trust in Almighty to secure the best result in Tokyo,” said Javanmardi, the first female shooter from I.R. Iran to win gold medals at the Paralympic Games.
The 36-year-old from Shiraz, Iran is one of the top medal prospects for her nation with three Paralympic medals and three world titles to her name. Her latest achievement is a gold medal in P2 (women’s 10m air pistol SH1) at the Al Ain 2021 World Cup which she won with a world record equaling effort.
Looking to repeat her Rio 2016 success in Tokyo, Javanmardi said several factors together will have an impact on the athlete’s result at the Games.
“There is a four-year gap between the Games for athletes to reach a desirable result. I believe that physical factors, equipment, support staff to name a few are important, but the main factor will be ‘athlete’s goal’. In addition, a qualified coach has a significant role in observing the performance of the athlete remotely and correcting mistakes to help them stay on the right track,” pointed out the double gold medallist at the 2018 Choengju World Championships.
“Like any other athlete, improving performance, repeating the previous medals and achieving the best results are definitely my target in Tokyo. Consequently, I will do my best to obtain the best result. I assume the situation around the globe is the same to all athletes participating in the upcoming Games. So, I am not worried about defending my title,” she said of her next target.
Training during Pandemic
The Shooting star admitted that the Covid 19 Pandemic has made things difficult for everyone with no training for most part of 2020.
“All of us had a new experience with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games was both a threat and an opportunity for us. Last year, for almost nine months, we did not have national training camps, so we had to stay at home and pursue our exercises individually at home under supervision of our coaches for about nine months. However, since December 2020, we had in-person 14 days camp each month followed by more intensive camps after the Persian New Year (April 2021).
“The Al Ain 2021 event was also a preparatory competition, and the records were desirable. Fortunately, everything is in order and the preparation is going smoothly in the road to Tokyo 2020.”
Incheon 2014 APG
Javanmardi, who was affected by polio which resulted in lower limb impairment, takes motivation from her performance at the Incheon 2014
Asian Para Games, where she took the gold medal after only five sessions of practice.
“That was my most memorable moment. It was at the Incheon 2014 Games where I tried P4 (Mixed 50m air pistol) for the first time and, after only 5 sessions of practice I won the gold medal and set a new record in the final. My performance at the Rio 2016 Games is also special. There I won the first titles in P4 and P2 with two finals Paralympic records. These performances inspire me a lot,” the London 2012 bronze medallist said as she always ‘strives for excellence’.
Javanmardi, who has now become a beacon of inspiration for women with impairments in Iran, is also happy to carry the responsibility of being a champion and hopes to continue bringing laurels to the nation with all her ‘hard work’.
“In P2, Iranian women have attained success and fame. And I am very happy to see so many women showing interest in the sport.
“It makes me really happy; on the other side and the responsibility that I have is undeniable. A champion must try hard in with all his/ her hard work and dedication to reach this stage. I endeavoured to be a good role model in every aspect namely sportsperson, behaviour, social relations, family relations, etc. I do not know how successful I am, but I did my best to be a good role model.”
Shooting and Calmness
Javanmardi’s first exposure to Para sports goes back to 2002 and Shooting Para Sport happened to her after trying several other para sports including sitting volleyball, chess, table tennis etc.
Her grandfather was an excellent shooter but her friends also persuaded her to join the sport.
“I was influenced by my friends; they motivated me to start practicing shooting and fortunately I am successful in it. The most interesting things that shooting taught me are calmness, concentration, patience that really helps me in my personal life now.”
“However, I feel that there is a huge gap between Olympians and Paralympians; people with a disability need further support and equipment. I tried to prove that with our abilities we are able to get medals and change public perception. This goal has already been fulfilled to some extent, however, we have still a long way before us to reach equality in the realm of Para sport.”
Javanmardi felt that the gap could be erased with greater integration between Olympic and Paralympic sports.
“Also, if all the Para sports events join their relevant International Federations, it could pave a way for removing the barriers between the Olympians and Paralympians. An example of this inclusion right now is in Para archery, where athletes with or without disabilities practice together in the same field regardless of their physical condition. I hope this can be fulfilled for at least individual sports in the near future,” the 36-year-old from Shiraz hoped.
She also has a message for all upcoming women Para-athletes in her country who aspire to become a Paralympic champion.
“I recommend them not to just focus on the aspects of championships particularly obtaining medals, instead, I would advise them to other aspects of the sport such as ‘calmness and patience’ that exists in philosophy of this sport.
“If they wish to obtain a medal, they need to spend a lot of time practicing and should be patient to reach their goal,” she signs off.