Iranian weightlifter Kianoush Rostami has reportedly agreed to make a one-of-a-kind donation to help his hometown of Kermanshah, Iran, recover from a 7.3-magnitude earthquake that left hundreds dead and thousand injured this weekend. On Tuesday, according to Iran’s national Olympic committee, the 26-year-old announced on Instagram that he will auction off the gold medal he won at last summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“I consider it my duty to take a step, however small, to help my beloved fellow countrymen who have suffered as a result of the quake,” Rostami, who now lives in Tehran, wrote (translation via CNN). “I am returning the gold medal, which is theirs by right, to my people. I will auction off the medal and use the proceeds to help the quake victims.”
The earthquake, which hit the hardest on the Iraq-Iran border where Kermanshah is located, struck on Sunday and left survivors dealing with crumbled homes and other hardships.
“We are living in a tent and we don’t have enough food or water,” Ali Gulani, 42, told the BBC. “You can hear children crying, it’s too cold. They are holding on to their parents to warm themselves — it’s pretty bad.”
One of the strongest earthquakes of the year, residents are still dealing with aftershocks, of which there have been more than 200, according to reports.
It’s unclear whether Rostami has friends and family in the area, although he indicated on Instagram that he was shaken by the event.
“I haven’t slept in the previous nights due to a sorrowful event,” wrote Rostami, who indicated on Instagram that prospective buyers should call in or text bids to two Iranian phone numbers.
Rostami, who has reportedly since been removed from the Iranian team after he opted to find his own coach, won his medal last summer in stunning fashion, breaking a world record in the process. Competing in the 85-kilogram division, Rostami lifted a combined total of 873 pounds in the snatch, and clean and jerk events.
Rostami also was upgraded to the silver medal in the same division from the 2012 Olympics in London, after the original silver medalist Apti Aukhadov of Russia was disqualified for doping.