Stars Spotlight

Mehrabi's many hats

Kaveh Mehrabi is used to flying the flag on his own for Iran and this week's Yonex BWF World Championships is no exception as he juggles being a competitor, the chairman of the Athletes Commission and a supporter of a charitable cause in London.

Kaveh 01The 29-year-old is a respected figure on the circuit, enhanced by his elevation last year to chairman of the sport's Athletes' Commission and is sitting on the Badminton World Federation (BWF) council.

Mehrabi plays and coaches in Denmark but he was a regular visitor home last year when his mother took ill then died of cancer.

His thoughts are still with her.

The Iranian said: "The first person I would talk to after my matches was my mother.

"One of the saddest things for me was the first time I went on court after her death and finished the match.

"I picked up the phone and wanted to talk to my mother and say 'Okay, I won' and then I realised that actually she would not be there.

Kaveh 02"That was heavy for me and it still happens sometimes. I want to pick up the phone and call her just because from inside I have not really realised she's gone.

In some ways I think she's not really gone. She's still with me."

Mehrabi, world ranked 82, is taking part in his sixth world championships, opening with a match on Tuesday against Russia's Stanilslav Pukhov.

His best singles career result came at the Danish Open in 2006 when he beat a player world ranked 18 at the time.

But Mehrabi said: "In terms of overall results I would say qualifying for the Beijing Olympics was the best. It was the first time someone from Iran and Western Asia had qualified for an Olympics.

"It was by far the biggest thing I have ever experienced in my life in sport."

Though his mother has gone, Mehrabi still has the full backing of his university professor father, a keen sports fan.

Said the Iranian: "He follows me more than sometimes I follow myself."

More than just an athlete

Off court Mehrabi is kept busy by his work with the Athletes' Commission.

In London, Mehrabi not only has to compete in the World Championships but also double up as the spokesperson at the Athletes' Commission Forum that took place on Wednesday evening at the Wembley Arena. It was attended by players, administrators and Council members of the BWF.

Kaveh 03"It does take a lot of planning," he said. "Maybe sometimes I could use a bit more rest but I am very glad to do it.

"I see it as a huge responsibility I owe towards the people who have put their belief and trust in me."

There are various matters to keep him and the Commission occupied, including the sport's dress code, but he said: "Thankfully, the BWF officials and council members are very open with the Commission.

"They take our feedback and have listened to us. Of course, we don't necessarily always agree on everything but that's normal. I don't see disagreement sometimes as the issue. I think it's just a way to find a better way forward."

Besides being a voice for the athletes, Kaveh has also thrown his support behind his coach Michael Kjeldsen and the BWF executive board member Gregory Verpoorten, who will be running in the New York Marathon to raise funds for the Badminton Ba Dame project in East Timor, a joint initiative of the BWF and Peace and Sport.

"I am also rallying for a few of the top stars in the sport to join me in putting our support behind Michael and Gregory's efforts to raise fund for the project in East Timor," he said.

"In the end, whether is it players, coaches, or fans, I hope everyone will be a part of this, for badminton, as one."

Members of the public can support the cause by visiting Peace and Sport's website for a one-off donation to Gregory here, and for Michael here.

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