Iran's 8-foot sitting volleyball star Morteza Mehrzad leads team to Paralympic semifinals

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Iran’s men’s national sitting volleyball team is one win away from competing for another gold medal in the Paralympics and one of the tallest people in the world is leading the squad.

Morteza Mehrzad, 33, is an 8-foot-1 Paralympian and holds the record for the tallest competitor. He helped Iran win gold in the 2016 Paralympics and is leading the charge again. Iran finished undefeated in group play, picking up wins over Brazil, Germany and China.

Iran’s Morteza Mehrzadselakjani spikes the ball during the Men’s Preliminaries Pool B Sitting Volleyball China against Iran during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. (Joe Toth for OIS via AP)
(Joe Toth for OIS via AP)

Mehrzad is an outside hitter for the sitting volleyball team and was on the 2016 squad when it won the gold in Rio. He took up the sport in 2011 and was called up to the national team in 2016.

According to his profile on the International Paralympic Committee website, he was diagnosed with acromegaly when he was younger. Acromegaly is a rare condition where the body produces excessive growth hormone causing the body tissues and bones to grow faster.

He usually uses a wheelchair or crutches to get around due to a fractured pelvis he suffered when he was 15. The injury caused his right leg to stop growing altogether. His left leg is 6 inches longer than his right.

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