Zahra Nemati recognised with women’s next-gen leader award by Paralympics

Zahra Nemati shoots during the Paralympic Games in 2016.

The International Paralympic Committee has recognised Zahra Nemati with its next-generation leader award on International Women’s Day for using her voice and platform to demonstrate what women with impairments can achieve.

Nemati said the award gave her joy but instilled a responsibility to “speak and act as a role model for the next generation of ladies who will make this planet a better place to live on an equal basis with more inclusivity than ever”.

A back-to-back Paralympic Champion at London 2012 and Rio 2016, Nemati was the first athlete from Iran to win a gold medal at either the Olympic or Paralympic Games. She has leveraged her success as an activist for women’s sport and equality both at home and abroad, speaking at a United Nation convention on impaired persons’ rights and acting as an ambassador for sustainable development.

At 35 years of age, the former taekwondo black belt has continually broken boundaries with her actions.

Not only did she defend her Paralympic title at Rio 2016, but she also competed in the corresponding Olympics – and carried the Iranian flag at the head of the delegation’s parade during the opening ceremony.

“Para archery gave a new meaning to my life,” she told “I was able to compete with able-bodied athletes and at the Olympics.”

“Sport is one of the strongest tools to overcome disability.”

Nemati will attempt to secure a third straight Paralympic title at the postponed Games in Tokyo this summer; if achieved, she will equal Italian archer Paola Fantano’s individual record.

“After the London 2012 gold, it was very difficult to win again,” she said. “It was a very interesting challenge, and I want to continue repeating my achievements in Tokyo 2020 and further.”