ATHENS, 27 September - Bosnia & Herzegovina scored a thrilling five-set victory over Iran, 3-2 (25-23, 20-25, 20-25, 27-25, 15-10), before 2,000 spectators in the packed Helliniko Fencing Hall, Monday, to win the gold medal of the 2004 Paralympic Men's Sitting Volleyball Tournament.
Bosnia & Herzegovina, comprised of players wounded in the 1992-95 war, came back from 1-2 down to dethrone the four-time Paralympic champions Iran in a thriller that extended well past midnight, but kept the spectators on edge throughout the almost two hour of the game.
Iran blew three match-balls at 21-24 and missed the chance to finish the game in four sets and earn its fifth straight gold medal in the sport. An attack and a block by Zikret MAHMIC and an attacking error by Iran's Ali GOLKAR AZGHANDI brought the score level at 24-24. Bosnia & Herzegovina dropped a set-ball of their own at 25-24, before Evad HAMZIC made a kill and MAHMIC added a stuff to force a tie-break.
Bosnia & Herzegovina took a quick 4-0 lead in the fifth set and never looked back, on its way to an incredible victory, before an enthousiastic multi-national crowd.
Safet ALIBASIC led the Bosnians & Herzegovinans with a total of 21 points that earned him the title of tops scorer of the game. Jalil EIMERY was Iran's top scorer in the Final, with 16 points.
Bosnia & Herzegovina outblocked Iran 18 to 13, served three aces to Iran's one and also overwhelmed their opponents in total kills.
This is the second medal ever for Bosnia & Herzegovina in the Paralympic Games, since the country became independent. Bosnia & Herzegovina had won a silver in Sydney 2000, when they lost the Sitting Volleyball to Iran in straight sets.