The 25-year old athlete was not on any evacuation lists. He had hoped that his accomplishments would make him and his family more special and allow them to board one of the rescue flights for Afghans fleeing from the Taliban.
He continued to move forward, when an Islamic State suicide bomber set off two dozen pounds worth of explosives in the crowd right before nightfall on Thursday. This killed 169 Afghans including Sultani and 13 U.S. military personnel.
His wife and their two children, Zahid, 4 and Zahra, 2, survived. He had instructed them to keep back as he moved toward the gate.
Zahid is still in shock three days later. He cries but doesn't talk.
Ali, the father of the athlete, stated that his son was expecting a dark future under Taliban rule.
The bereaved man who goes by the last names Rahmani said that he didn't know where his son would go. Rahmani, who was holding some of his son’s medals, said that it didn't matter if he went to the United States or Europe. His voice was filled with sadness.
He said, "Everyone seemed to be fleeing"
Najma Sadeqi, also tried to escape that afternoon. The 20-year old, who was finishing her final semester of journalism school, feared that the Taliban's return would bring Islamic rule to an extreme form, where women would be forced to stay at home.
The promise of a better career was promised to those who made it through the airport gates.
Najma started her career in journalism by creating a YouTube channel. She later went on to work for several private broadcasters.
Women have made significant progress in education, politics, and business over the past two decades since the U.S. -led invasion of Afghanistan. But it wasn't easy. Afghanistan is still a conservative country, particularly outside of urban areas. Najma's family was opposed to her new career. Some even cut off contact.
Freshta claimed that her sister received threats via text and phone calls from unknown men. They objected to her appearance in public.
Freshta stated that she was the only person she confided in about her security concerns. "She was afraid of the consequences for her family if she shared it with them."
Najma was worried that the Taliban would take over her career, as they quickly advanced and captured most of the country within days. In the hope that they would convince the Americans to let her board a plane, she compiled the threats text messages and took them to the airport.
Freshta stated that Najma had plans to start her YouTube channel again from her new location, wherever it might be. She would also document the lives and experiences of Afghan migrants. "She dreamed of a career as a media professional despite all the difficulties she faced."
Najma and the tens of thousand others gathered outside the airport gate were not swayed to accept Taliban promises that they would allow girls and women to go to school.
Ali Reza Ahmadi was a 34-year old journalist who had been working for almost a decade. He went to the airport months after getting engaged. According to Khadim Karimi (a close friend and colleague), he was killed along with his younger brother who had hoped that he would travel with him.
According to Karimi, Ahmadi was already suffering from depression and financial difficulties before the Taliban invaded. Karimi stated that Ahmadi was distraught and decided to travel to the airport to wait for an airlift to his country.