Afghans win first Olympic medal
20. August 2008, 12:09

BBC News - Rohullah Nikpai won Afghanistan's first ever Olympic medal when he took bronze in the taekwondo men's 58kg category.

He beat world champion Juan Antonio Ramos of Spain 4-1 in a play-off.

Taekwondo is one of the most popular sports in conflict-hit Afghanistan, which boasts more than 700 clubs and 25,000 competitors.

The nation - which has sent a team of four to Beijing - counted its previous best Olympic finish as a fifth place in the wrestling in 1964.

Nikpai's victory thousands of miles away has dominated news on several private television and radio stations in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai is reported to have spoken to Nikpai over the phone to congratulate him on his victory.

And the president of the Afghan Olympic committee, Mohammad Anawar Jegdalak, told the BBC the government would give the martial artist a house to mark the win.

He also said an organisation in Kabul plans to give Nikpai a gift of US$50,000.

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art, brought to Kabul by an American master in 1972.

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