10 May 2024

Ali Rahimi achieves lifelong Olympic referee goal

Becoming an Olympic referee in Taekwondo is no easy feat. For Ali Rahimi, Chief Instructor of World Taekwondo Centre in Victoria’s southeast – who has been selected as an International Kyorugi Referee for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games – the journey began in 2004 when he completed his first international refereeing course.

“Since then, I have dedicated nearly half of my life to Taekwondo, focusing on teaching, coaching, and refereeing,” Rahimi explains. 

“I have invested a significant amount of time and money into attending courses, seminars, and training camps to enhance my skills and knowledge. To reach the pinnacle of my career, I had to go through a rigorous selection process and demonstrate my expertise at various qualification tournaments.” 

As an S-class Australian Referee and first-class International Referee who has officiated at many world championships and international competitions, not to mention being the Victorian State Referee Director and a Kukkiwon Black Belt 7th Dan in his own right, it’s fair to say Rahimi’s credentials are worthy of recognition. 

And two decades after taking those first steps towards achieving Olympic Referee status, his hard work and dedication has finally paid off.

“This has been my lifelong dream,” he reveals. “Now, I have the honour to serve as a Paralympic Referee for the first time, and I am thrilled to have reached the highest level of Taekwondo achievement, it means a lot to me.”

Leading a rescue mission

Outside of Taekwondo, Rahimi is highly involved in providing community support and engagement to refugees and asylum seekers.

He was the unsung hero behind the remarkable story of eight female Taekwondo athletes who fled Afghanistan and gained refuge in Australia. No stranger to the dangers and upheavals of life in a war-torn country after himself fleeing Taliban controlled Afghanistan, Rahimi’s commitment inspired a whole community to help ensure the safety and support of these athletes in their quest to continue competing in Taekwondo. 

His phone call to Australian Taekwondo launched a desperate bid to get the girls safely across the border, culminating in a 25-day rescue mission that had once seemed impossible.

Rahimi, who sponsored the girls, has supported them in their integration into a new country, new community and a new way of life, with the assistance of the Victorian Taekwondo community and local Afghan community.

“Since arriving in Melbourne and settling into Australian life, the support from the Victorian Taekwondo and Afghan community has been overwhelming,” he says. “All those athletes are still in the early stages of their new life here in Australia, where they are safe and able to train and compete in Taekwondo.”

Honoured for service to Taekwondo

In January 2022, Rahimi was honoured for his valuable contribution to martial arts and the local community, receiving the Holt Australia Day Award, which recognises outstanding people who consistently go above and beyond in their contribution as a volunteer, professional or community member. 

The award was thoroughly deserved recognition for a remarkable career in Taekwondo, including representing Australia at many international tournaments as a first-class referee, in addition to his vital role in bringing the eight Taekwondo athletes from Afghanistan to safety. 

But it’s the future, not the past, that has Rahimi most excited. Between 29-31 August, 2024, he will proudly represent Australian Taekwondo when he officiates the highest level of World Taekwondo competition in Paris.

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