Iranians Bring Team of 25 to Games
By Kazushige Takeuchi, 18, and Ryosuke Niwa, 16
Translator: Saho Kitawaki
Scholastic News Online Student Reporter, Japan

June 23—The main goal of the 25 Iranian Special Olympics athletes is to have fun, said head coach Ashgar Dadkhah.

"But it would be great for us if we could bring a few medals back to Iran," he told Scholastic News Online.

The 45-year-old Iranian is leading 20 males and 5 female athletes in competitions in Ping-Pong, athletics, and soccer.

When he is not training with his athletes, he is a university professor in Iran.

"My children say, 'You are very busy, but what you are doing is fantastic, and we are proud of you!" he said. He speaks six languages: Iranian, English, Arabic, French, Persian, and Japanese. He is especially exited about attending the Winter World Games in Japan in 2005. He has a Master's degree in psychology and Japanese language, which he earned in Japan.

He thinks the good points of being a head coach are being able to have a great time with athletes through the Games, having communication with them in the training programs, and also being able to go to different countries.

"My job as a professor and a coach of Special Olympics are my life's work," he said. "I'm having a great time and experience from Special Olympics. I want to be a coach who is proud of the athletes."