WELSH weightlifter Darius Jokarzadeh says he’ll put his Olympic dream on hold to play American football after just missing out on a medal at Glasgow 2014, writes Andrew Penman.
The 21-year-old from Cardiff finished fourth in the men’s +105kg division in the Commonwealth Games.
The 6ft 7ins athlete has been based at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, for the last few years and he is heading back over the Atlantic shortly to pursue an NFL contract.
“I’m really disappointed,” said Jokarzadeh. “The strength I’ve got at the moment is unreal. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been but I’m too light.
“I weigh 124kg but some of these guys weigh 163kg – it’s the super-heavies for a reason.
“But the 175kg would have put me right in the mix. I should have a medal round my neck – that’s what I feel.”
The disappointment means Jokarzadeh is likely to shelve plans to compete at Rio 2016.
“I’ve got to sit down and think about my future now,” he said. “I’m going back to the States in a couple of days for a training camp.
“Rio is just round the corner – there are only two years left so I’m going to have to make a decision soon.
“I think for the moment American football is the thing for me – just purely because of the money.
“If you make it then there are $15m contracts on offer and how can you earn that over here?
“But eventually, even if it’s 2020 or 2024, I want to go to the Olympics. I’ve definitely got the potential to win an Olympic gold so that’s definitely on the horizon.”
Asked about weightlifting teammate Gareth Evans, who had his nose broken thanks to a headbutt from Australian rival Francois Etoundi, Jokarzadeh pleaded ignorance.
“I don’t know much about Gareth’s nose,” he said. “I haven’t seen him since it happened.”
Evans said: “I was involved in an unfortunate incident. As the innocent party I’m pleased to say that I’m absolutely fine and have received support from Police Scotland and Team Wales in the handling of it all.
“I’ve put it behind me and now want to concentrate on making the most of my remaining Commonwealth experience.”