Kimia Alizadeh, an Iranian defector, stunned two-time Olympic gold medallist Jade Jones in the round of 16 at the Tokyo Olympics, defeating the British champion 16-12. Alizadeh, a bronze medallist in Rio de Janeiro, won twice on Sunday for the Refugee Olympic Team, advancing to the quarterfinals of the women’s 57-kilogram class in Tokyo.
Before her major upset of Jones, who was seeking to become the first British woman to win gold in three straight Olympics, she defeated Iranian opponent Nahid Kiyani Chandeh 18-9 in her first bout.
After defecting to Germany, Alizadeh is competing for the refugee squad. She relocated to the United States in 2016, just months after being the first Iranian woman to win an Olympic medal. Olympic medals have never been won by the refugee team.
Alizadeh criticised the Iranian system for using her for propaganda reasons, citing systemic misogyny and the forced wearing of the hijab headgear. In the bout against Alizadeh, Kiyani donned a headscarf, and Alizadeh won easily. After that, Alizadeh stunned Jones with a thrilling third-round performance. With only 30 seconds left in the match, Alizadeh scored a pair of two-point body kicks to take the lead and hold on for the four-point triumph.
Alizadeh screamed and celebrated with her coach, as a tiny crowd of Olympians and support staff at the Makuhari Messe convention centre erupted in shocked roars at the taekwondo tournament’s biggest upset.
Alizadeh will compete for a semifinal berth against Lijun Zhou of China later Sunday.