Ilham Zakiyev

Ilham Zakiyev

"I was born in the city of Sumgait on March 3. I have four brothers and one sister, I was the youngest boy in the family. I got married in 2005. I attended school, No.5 in Sumgait in from 1987-1997. Like me, my elder brother was a Karabakh war veteran and disabled. His leg was wounded at war and he died from a heart attack in 2012. In 1991-1992, I was persuaded by my other brother, Fikret, to start wrestling. I trained at freestyle wrestling for three to four years. Then my coach emigrated and I gave up wrestling. Soon after I went on to do judo at the Mekhdi Huseinzadeh stadium in Sumgait. It wasn't long before I was succeeding at city and republican level competitions and won the Cup of Azerbaijan".

"Later, in 1998, I joined the army. Due to my sports skills I was assigned to the army intelligence unit.  I received a Certificate of Honour for excellent service. I was shot by sniper in the Fuzuli region on February 4, 1999 during a combat mission. The bullet went through my left temple. I was in coma for five days. Doctors told my parents I would not make it and advised them to prepare for the worst. But after five days I woke up to my mother's voice but I could not see her; darkness was all around me,I had lost my sight. I returned home as the first category disabled veteran of Karabakh War".

"I returned to sports on November 1, 2002. However, this time as a Paralympic athlete. A year later I competed in Canada and won a bronze medal. In 2004, I was the first to represent Azerbaijan in para-judo at the Athens Paralympics. In 2005 I won a gold medal at the European Championship in Holland".

"I am six-times European Champion and two-times World Champion. I won a gold medal at the Athens and Beijing Paralympics and a bronze medal at the London Paralympics. I won a gold medal at the First European Games held in Baku. I received a Master of Sports honour in 2009. I was awarded with an Honour Order in 2008, the first Paralympic athlete to receive this. In 2015, after the European Games, the President awarded me with a second Honour Order. I am in fact the only athlete that has an Honour Order in Azerbaijan. In 2012 I was awarded the Progress Medal and I am the only athlete to receive the Golden Chenar award from the Heydar Aliyev Foundation".

Sport type: Para-judo
Place of birth: Sumgait
Age: 37
Height: 190
Weight: 148 kg

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