The Land of Games
The history of sports in Iran begins in ancient times. In the ancient east, Iran was the only country to put primary emphasis on sports and physical education. From very old times, Iranians understood the importance of sports and physical health and strength as a means to a chivalrous and prosperous life. The famous Greek historian, Herodotus, wrote: “Iranians used to learn three things from their 5 up to 20 including horsemanship, arrow shooting, and honesty. youths commenced their daily exercises through running and throwing stones and javelin, and among their usual exercises, one is living on little food, tolerating the very heat of summer, long walks, passing through rivers without letting their weapons become wet, and sleeping in the open air. Horse riding and hunting were two main and common activities among them.”
Wrestling is one of the ancient sports of Iranians and they have remarkable skills in this field. In the Olympics and other world championships, Iranians have always been one of three forerunners in wrestling. Of Iranian wrestling champions, we should name Pahlavan Takhti, Rasul Khadem, Hamid Surian, among others. Powerlifting is another popular sport among the Iranians. you can not find any individual in the world who does not know the name of the strongest champion of the world, Hossein Rezazadeh, holder of two golden Olympics medals and several other world championship medals in the heavyweight group.
Football is also one of the most popular sports in Iran. Iranian children, start playing football in alleys and local parks– they play football for as many hours as they can continue! Iranian National Football Team, also known as “the Brazil of Asia” among the people of the world, is one of the powerful teams of Asia and it has introduced many great football players to the world such as Ahmad Reza Abedzadeh, Ali Daei, Mehdi Mahdavi Kia, Ali Karimi, Javad Nekunam, Vahid Hashemian, etc who have been fixed members of famous teams such as Bayern Munich, Hamburg, and so on.
In the field of martial arts, although Iranians have adopted most of them from far eastern lands of Asia such as Korea, Japan, and China, indeed the Iranians do better than the east in most of the related fields. Taekwondo, Judo, Karate, Boxing, and so on are amongst the sports loved by the Iranian youth and they have obtained several Olympic and universal medals in these fields. After considerable investments made by the Iranian Federation Iran succeeded to occupy the first up to third ranks of the world in volleyball and basketball in recent years.
The Iranian youth with their remarkable liveliness and delight are applying their best of strength and efforts in other fields in the universal arena. Meanwhile, Iranian women have had significant achievements at the international level demonstrating their ability and capability to the world. Leaving back many remarkable records in different fields such as taekwondo, arrow shooting, chess, judo, football, and boating in Asia, they are about to conquer loftier summits in the international and Olympic competitions.
both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, particularly freestyle, are incredibly popular in Iran, often even referred to as its national sport. with a history of great wrestlers, such as Gholamreza Takhti, and considerable success in Olympic and world championships, Iran is considered among the elite nations in the sport (along with the US and the former Soviet Bloc).
Strength sports have always held favor among Iranians and with the recent success of world record-holding superheavyweight lifter Hossein Reza Zadeh and Behdad Salimi, the sport has been returned to a rather high status. Also, bodybuilding is favored among young Iranians.
Football (soccer) is by far the most popular sport in Iran. Iran has been able to reach the FIFA world cup three times, and its national team is among the football elite in Asia. Particularly in the past 10 years, with the privatization of soccer clubs and the launch of Iran’s Premier Football League, considerable progress has been made. Many Iranian players now play in major European leagues, and many Iranian clubs have hired European players or coaches. Like all other sports, adequate football facilities are limited in Iran. Iran’s largest football stadium is the Azadi stadium with a seating capacity of 80,000. Many of the top matches of Iran’s Premier League are held here. In July 2005, Iran’s football team qualified for the Football world cup 2006.
Iran is home to numerous mountainous regions, many of which are suitable for skiing, and are gaining increasing popularity among foreign visitors. Skiing began in Iran in 1938 through the efforts of two German railway engineers. Today, 13 ski resorts operate in Iran, the most famous being Tochal, Dizin, and Shemshak. All are within one to three hours of traveling time in Tehran. Potentially suitable terrain can also be found in Lorestan, Mazandaran, and other provinces. The Tochal resort is the world’s fifth-highest ski resort at over 3,730 m at its highest 7th station. The resort was completed in 1976 shortly before the overthrow of the Shah.
It is only a mere 15 minutes away from Tehran’s northern districts and operates 7 months a year. Here, one must first ride the 8 km (5 miles) long gondola lift which covers a huge vertical. The 7th station has three slopes. The resort’s longest slope is the south side U-shaped slope which goes from the 7th station to the 5th station. The other two slopes are located on the north side of the 7th station.
Here, two parallel chair ski lifts go up to 3900 m near Tochal’s peak (at 4,000 m), rising higher than the gondola 7th station. This altitude is said to be higher than any of the European resorts. From the Tochal peak, one has a spectacular view of the Alborz range, including the 5,671 meters (18,606 ft) high Mount Damavand, a dormant volcano. At the bottom of the lifts in a valley behind the Tochal peak is Tochal hotel, located at 3500 m altitude. From there a T lift takes skiers up the 3,800 meters of Shahneshin peak, where the third slope of Tochal is. Below are some of the ski areas and resorts in Iran:
Dizin (Tehran Province)
Dizin is a ski resort situated to the north of Tehran in the Alborz mountain range & also the most important ski resort in Iran and the Middle East. The huge Dizin ski resort was established before the 1979 revolution as were many sports complexes in Iran and has a reputation for excellent snow, because of its altitude and the north facing slopes. The ski season in Dizin also lasts longer than European ski resorts (from December to May) because of its high altitude.
Shemshak is a ski resort situated to the north-east of Tehran in the Alborz mountain range. Shemshak is the second largest ski area in Iran after Dizin and came into operation in 1958. It includes two ski lifts, three dish tele skis, and two Hammer tele skis. The slopes lie at an altitude of 2550 m to 3050 m above sea level. The resort includes two main slopes each with a chair lift that apex at the top and several lifts. There are also lighting facilities for night skiing. Shemshak has classically catered to more advanced skiers while Dizin has drawn Beginner and Intermediate Skiers. The slopes are quite steep and many of the runs are mogul runs. Shemshak is conveniently situated just about 55 minutes’ drive from Tehran, 10 km from middle slope parking of Dizin, and 5 km from Darband Sar ski resort.
Mount Tochal is a mountain in the Alborz range and adjacent to metropolitan Tehran, Iran. The mountain has a 12 km long ridgeline. The highest peak, also called Mount Tochal, is at an elevation of 3,964 m (13,005 feet). A seven-station gondola lift runs from Tehran to the Tochal Ski Resort and a modern hotel. Tochal is a popular recreational region for Tehran’s residents.
Sepidan (Fars Province)
The Sepidan (also known as Ardakān-e Fars) is a town in the Fars province of Iran. It is notable for its natural beauty. Near Sepīdān (which means “Whiteland” in Persian) is situated one of the best ski resorts of southern Iran.
Alvares (Ardabil Province)
Alvares is a ski resort in the Iranian province of Ardabil. It is the second standard ski resort in Iran and is situated in the hamlet of Alvares which is located 24 kilometers away from the city of Sarein at an altitude of 3,200 meters above sea level.
Other major ski resorts of Iran include:
Khoshaku, (Urmia) Sahand Ski Resort, (Tabrīz) Kūhrang, (Shahr-e Kord) Kakan, (Yasuj) Tarik-Darreh, (Hamadan) Shahmirzad Ski Resort, (Semnān) Shāndīz, (Khorāsān province) Chelgard, (Shahr-e Kord)
Martial arts have exploded in popularity in Iran in the past 20 years. Kyokushin, Shotokan, Wushu, and Taekwondo are the most popular. One can now find dojos from almost every martial arts style in Iran, with relatively large numbers of followers. The Kung Fu style Tao originated in Iran.
In volleyball, Iran has a national team and a professional league. Iran national volleyball team is among the strongest teams in Asia, and the Iranian Youth and Junior (Under 19- and Under 21-) national teams are among the top 3 strongest teams in the world, winning medals in Boys’ U19 Volleyball World Championship and Men’s U21 Volleyball World Championship in recent years. In the 2007 Men’s U21 Volleyball World Championship, the Iranians were successful at earning a Bronze medal. Also, in late August 2007, the Iran national under 19- volleyball team surprised many by winning the gold medal in the Volleyball World Championship in Mexico after beating France and China in the semifinals and finals respectively and marking the first such international gold medal for an Iranian team sport.
In basketball, Iran has a national team, and a professional league, with competitive players in Asia. The clubs have begun hiring foreign players and coaches into their roster. The national team participated in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. They will finally return to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, thanks to their gold medal in the 2007 FIBA Asia Championship, their first-ever continental crown.