The Pride of a Nation

The sidelines of the volleyball court in Tehran's Olympic training center are littered with the usual detritus of a warm-up game: stray balls, gym bags, sweaty tracksuits—and a jumble of crutches and prosthetic legs. The final countdown to the Paralympics, opening in Athens this week, has begun, and Iran's sitting-volleyball team is readying for what it hopes will be its fifth consecutive gold. Team manager Ali Kashfia, watching from a battered turquoise wheelchair, nods appreciatively as he watches a particularly elegant set-and-spike maneuver, a smile splitting his scarred and twisted face. The 40-year-old veteran of the past four Paralympics lost his...

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