Hadi Saei Bonehkohal (Persian: هادی ساعی بنه كُهل , born June 10, 1976 in Ray) is an Iranian Taekwondo athlete who became the most successful Iranian athlete in Olympic history after snatching gold in the 2008 Summer Olympics. He competed in the Men's 68 kg (featherweight) at the 2004 Summer Olympics and won the gold medal. In addition, he competed in the Men's 80 kg at the 2008 Summer Olympics and won his second olympic gold. Earlier in his career and in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Saei had won the bronze medal.
He has been practicing Tae Kwon Do since he was six years old. Having previously competed in Lightweight (67-72 kg), he is the 1999 World Champion and 2003 World Championship silver medallist. When Iranian town of Bam, Iran was devastated in the 2003 earthquake, Saei put his medals on auction to raise money for the victims.
He has been World Champion in the Tae Kwon Do World Championships 7 times and was recently awarded the title of 'Best Tae Kwon Do Player of all Time' by the International Board. Currently, he is a senior at the Iran Physical Education University.
Saei officially ended his career as a Tae Kwon Do athlete on November 8, 2008 (18 Aban 1387).
In the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, Saei's gold medal was really important for all Iranian athletes who participated in this year's Olympic games. Saei was the last Iranian athlete to compete. Iran's hope to avoid its worst Olympics showings was resting on Saei's shoulders.
In the first match against the Nepalese Deepak Bista his right hand was fractured during the fight however he did not indicate about his injury in the entire competition despite enormous pain until he won the final against the Italian Mauro Sarmiento. Immediately after winning the Gold medal his hand was in plaster cast. Previously he wanted to say farewell after winning in the final, but his coach Reza Mehmandoust has advised him not to do it.
By winning his gold medal, Saei ensured that Iran was leaving Beijing with a better result than their poor showing at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, where they bagged only one bronze medal. Full results of Iran's medals in the history of the Summer Olympic games can be found in the 'Medal tables' in Iran at the Olympics.
He has suffered great personal tragedy, having lost his brother and father in the same year, and the death of his younger brother, who succumbed to cancer the following year.