There are some things that bring communities together in unique ways, and the death of a community member is certainly one of them. Several months ago, Jurisculture discussed the creation of communities of sorrow from horrific events that occur in one place but impact the world as a whole. This post discusses the ways in which sorrow brings together communities of Paralympians in a special way.
This post is dedicated to the memory of Bahman Golbarnezhad, Iranian Para-cyclist and two-time Paralypian, who died today following a crash during competition. Mr. Golbarnezhad was 48 years old at the time of his death and leaves behind a family in Shiraz, Iran.
Mr. Golbarnezhad’s death came whilecompeting in a road cycling event for those with injuries to lower limbs. While the circumstances are being investigated, it is known that he was involved in an accident on the descent of a hill on the road course and was brought to hospital, where he passed away of cardiac issues.
As the ultimately fatal accident came during the course of competition, many other competitors were unaware of it until after the race had ended. However, when Mr. Golbarnezhad’s death became known to his fellow competitors and to the larger Paralympic community, it caused reactions that demonstrated the power of sport to form a community that experienced sorrow together.
There were official statements of grief from the Iranian delegation and from the International Paralympic Committee, as expected, but also from national delegations. These national delegations included the United States, which still has some diplomatic tensions with Iran. These statements demonstrated that in the face of tragedy, the sporting community reaches well beyond the strictures and concerns of formal diplomatic wrangling.
This is particularly true of the Paralympic community, in which competitors have a deeper understanding of the sacrifices their competition has made for sport. Athletes who knew Mr. Golbarnezhad were obviously impacted by his death, as were those who had never met him. The athletes impacted were not only members of the cycling community but came from many other sports, all sharing the bond of the sports community and particularly of the Paralympic community.
During this time of competition and focus on success, the tragic death of Mr. Golbarnezhad has united the Paralympic community in sorrow, demonstrating the power of sports to forge a strong societal bond. In this way, Mr. Golbarnezhad’s legacy will extend far into the future.