The ICRC MoveAbility Foundation is active in Tajikistan since 2008, particularly by supporting the physical rehabilitation centre for persons with disabilities in Dushanbe. In partnership with Otto Bock, the German Prostheses & Orthoses worldwide leading company, it has been supporting professional athletes, notably by fitting them with adaptive sporting
devices.
The story of Akmal Kadirov is the testimony of one of those athletes.

Interview with Akmal Kadirov

The right way.

We met with Akmal in the office of the Otto Bock companyin Moscow, where he was training to use his new prosthesis, production of which was supported by the ICRC MoveAbility Foundation. During the break, he has found some time to
tell his story.

In the year of 2000 I lost my leg in a car accident. After the surgery I started learning to walk with crutches. Eight months after I went to the stadium to watch a football game, when a person approached me asking how long ago the tragedy happened to me.
-Eight months ago, I replied.
-Have you tried to do arm-wrestling? The man asked.
-I know what it is about but I have never tried myself.

He invited me to come to the gym at the stadium. That’s how the journey began.
That stranger was Iskandar Turaev, the first trainer of Akmal. Iskandar, who came from Great Britain, was studying arm-wrestling and training.

“He was the one who opened the door of arm-wrestling to
me. Now I’ve been arm-wrestling for 17 years.

I remember my fist victory.

In 2000, I went to Dushanbe to visit the prosthesis factory. There I met the President of the Paralympic Committee of Tajikistan. He came to me and asked if I ever had been involved in arm-wrestling. I replied that I had heard something about this sport. Then he grabbed my hand and started to pull it. I hold him with almost no efforts. “So strong!”, he said and invited me to a championship. It was the championship of the Tajikistan Republic among people with disabilities. This is where I got my first place in arm-wrestling and in kettlebell sport. And after the competition, that man told me

“Son, keep playing sports! Don’t let go of anything, the future is yours!” I did not quit and later there were many other championships and competitions.

So, I kept doing sports.

Today I’m Honored Master of sports of Tajikistan, nine-time World Champion, fourteen-time Champion of Asia, three times I was Champion of Asia among ordinary people and my current results are three Gold medals at the Paralympic Games. I also took part in the Paralympic Games in Sochi, where I won the Bronze medal.

In 2015, I started athletics training. I’m in the Tajikistan Paralympic team. My three main sports disciplines now are shot put, javelin and discus throw.

I have big plans for the future.

Now the active preparation is ongoing for participation in the Asian Games in Dubai. But the main goal now is the Paralympic Games in Tokyo in three year. I want to be very well prepared for these Games and will try to be in Top-3.  This is the plan.

Five training sessions per week is normal.

The training process is ongoing almost all the time and has its own specifics.

I have three bodybuilding training a week and twice I train only arm-wrestling, so I have five training sessions per week. Usually, I have one hour of arm-wrestling and then three hours of workout and bodybuilding. We, arm-wrestlers, are the lucky ones as we do not have to keep any diet and can eat everything we want.

Energy moves to your arms.

Arm-wrestling has its own specific. You need to have very strong arms to do it. Akmal explains a bit more in details.

-Among people with disabilities, usually the lower-limb amputees are the ones who practice arm-wrestling, because after the amputation the energy and force goes to your hands and arms. When you start using crutches your arms become stronger very fast as you need to carry your own weight.

-It often happens that a person does not know that he has such capacities. It suddenly comes out, somewhere at a party in company of friends, when people decide to wrestle just for fun and realize that they have a potential. I saw many cases like this.

He showed me the right way.

-I’m the lucky one. My trainer, Turaev Iskandar, saw my potential and put me on the path to sport. Because of that, it saved me from taking the wrong path and drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

Prayers are our talisman.

Every time before we go to a competition our elders are praying for us. Their prayers are our talisman.

New step along the right way

Now, when I’m getting used to walk with this new prosthesis I can feel that it is more comfortable that the one I had before. With my previous one I had to replace middle part with an iron stick for the prosthesis not to be broken during trainings as I carry a lot of weights When I am completely used to this new prosthesis, I will also adapt my training so I don’t break it.

I am very thankful to MoveAbility and Ottobock who gave me the possibly of having a prosthesis specifically adapted for sports. I am slowly getting used to it and I  realize every day how good the prosthesis really is. I also appreciated the help and support I received from the Ottobock team who has been helping me with the training on how to use the prosthesis.

As told and written by Galina Balzamova