The stability found in Sara Khadem’s life translates into brilliant results. A year after taking refuge in the south of Spain – the government nationalized her by the quickest route in July – the chess player, born in Iran 26 years ago, achieved two successes in one month: she rose to 13th place in the world rankings. in the classic modality after his good play in the very demanding Llobregat Open; and this Friday he won the silver medal at the European Lightning in Monte Carlo (Monaco).
Psychological strength was the key to the medal, judging by what Khadem said on the phone to EL PAÍS: “The first half of the tournament was very bad for me (four wins and three losses). I calculated that I needed ten points out of thirteen to get on the podium, which required me to win the last six. “So I decided to play with maximum concentration and give my best.” This is certainly the caseand culminated this triumphant streak with a victory in the last round against the champion, the Swiss Alexandra Kosteniuk, who was world champion in the classic modality when she was Russian.
Khadem quickly adapted to his new life on the Andalusian coast (he keeps his exact location secret for security reasons), which he already knew from having participated in the Gibraltar Open several times. Her husband, filmmaker Ardeshir Ahmadi, put aside his profession to help Khadem so that she could devote the necessary time to her training while someone else looked after their son, Sam, aged almost two years.
Khadem had already suffered reprisals in Iran for his political positions in opposition to the government, which slowed his rise to the elite, quickly from his childhood prodigy until he came of age. But by refusing to play veiled at the World Rapid and Blitz Championships in Almaty (Kazakhstan), while his country was in great turmoil after the death of young Mahsa Amini after being tortured by the police, crossed all the lines reds — the government issued a search and capture order against her — and forced her to immediately emigrate to Spain without returning to Iran. President Pedro Sánchez received it a few days later in La Moncloa, which considerably accelerated the nationalization procedures.
In October, when she was proclaimed Spanish women’s champion, she finally convinced herself that she could set high goals for herself: “My life is already well organized in Spain, although it is true that the visits of my Iranian family takes up my time, but it’s something very pleasant. “My goal is to enter the top ten in the world and for that I am training seriously.”
105 chess players from 24 countries played in Monte-Carlo; among them, twelve Spaniards. Marta García fought for the medals, but lost in the final two rounds to champion Kosteniuk and bronze medalist Bella Jotenashvili of Georgia, dropping her to 8th place.
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