Incheon: Iran's new star keirin rider earned himself a pass out of military service by snatching a surprise Asian Games cycling gold Thursday -- reducing his relieved mum to tears.
At just 21 years old, Mohammad Daneshvarkhourram lined up against defending champion Azizul Awang of Malaysia and his veteran teammate Josiah Ng, but pushed across the line to win a photo finish. (Complete coverage of Asian Games 2014)
The university student was due to start military service after he graduates next year.
But he has earned an exemption with victory at his first ever Asiad appearance -- the only gold for his country in this year's track cycling tournament.
"I called my mum afterwards and she couldn't say anything. All I could hear was crying!" he told AFP.
Asked whether he was happy not to have to join the army, he replied: "One hundred percent."
Having risen through the junior ranks, Thursday's win signals a coming of age for the Iranian, who is rated 235th in the world in keirin.
"I'm only 21 years old, this is my first Asian Games and I got a medal -- I think I can be one of the best in the world," he said.
Japan's Kazunari Watanabe and Malaysia's Josiah Ng took silver and bronze after third-placed Azizul was disqualified for entering the sprinter's lane when another rider was already there.
Ng, 34, who has won three silvers in his Asiad career, was gunning for gold in what he said would be his last Asian Games.
"I'm happy to get a medal at my fourth Asian Games -- I really wanted to win, but he was too good!" Ng said.
The Malaysian said he had not fully recovered from a serious crash at the track cycling World Cup in Mexico last year, which left him fighting for his life.
"I'm going to decide with my family and coach whether to cut my losses and retire (or continue competing). It's 50/50 at the moment," said Ng.