Askari’s career reached its peak 73 years ago when he claimed two medals in six events at the Asian Games in New Delhi.
100-year-old Iranian diver Taghi Askari, who clinched silver and bronze medals at the inaugural Asian Games in New Delhi seventy-three years ago, resurfaced on the international stage as the oldest participant at the World Aquatics Masters Championships in Qatar.
Askari jumped from a 3-meter high platform in a special display to mark a two-week countdown to the start of the World Masters Aquatics Championships in Doha, which is set to be staged from February 23 to March 3.
Askari, who had parted ways with the sport at the age of 41, revealed to World Aquatics his return to diving in Doha was fueled by an enduring love for the sport: “I achieved a gold medal at the national level, and after that, I said goodbye to the sport, but at least with a gold medal.”
The veteran diver’s international journey began at the Asian Games in New Delhi during the inaugural edition, witnessing the transformation of the competition from 489 athletes across six sports in 1951 to 11,935 athletes competing in forty disciplines at the 2022 edition.
Reflecting on the evolution of diving, Askari expressed his passion for the sport, saying: “For me, I have had a love of diving since I was a teenager until today. I have always loved diving. Nothing has changed between 1951 and now, except my performance.”
“The first time I attended the Asian Games in New Delhi in 1951 the level of diving in Iran was very high and I achieved two medals”
“But by the time the games were in Tehran in 1974 the Chinese swimmers had entered this beautiful sport and they started to improve by a lot – we just couldn’t catch them as we stayed at the same level we started at.”
When asked about advice for current and prospective participants in the World Aquatics Masters Championships and the future event in Singapore 2025, Askari emphasised that “the only thing I want to tell you is about loving this sport and to keep yourself healthy. This can be a good motivation for you to attend these championships and different championships.”
Doha is set to be the venue for the flagship age group competition catering to master aquatics participants in swimming, water polo, diving, artistic swimming, and open-water swimming.
The Gulf nation is currently hosting the World Aquatics Championship which began on February 2nd and will run through to March 3rd, bringing together around 2,600 elite athletes from 190 nations.
The primary venues for the championship are the Aspire Dome, Hamad Aquatic Centre, and the Old Doha Port.