The Georgian judoist Zviad Gogochuri won the Paralympic gold in Rio. Zviad is blind, he is the world and European champion in judo.
And there are other Paralympic champions and sportsmen with disabilities in Georgia. Here are their stories.
Persons with limited opportunities make up for 3 percent of the Georgian population (118 651). https://idfi.ge/ge/statistics-of-persons-with-disabilities). Most of them live in Tbilisi. Their monthly pension is 70-100 lari. There are 30 Paralympic sportsmen and 8 European champions among them.
But the statistics cannot convey their resolution, self-discipline and energy.
Here are the stories of the Paralympic sportsmen who have achieved unbelievable results through extraordinary effort. Of those who have reached the goal despite the obstacles – to show that any dream may come true. Here are the stories of the Georgian champions.
Beso Lekiashvili is the former wrestler. His career has ended in 1989 with a leg injury. That what the doctors, his family and friends thought. Tireless Beso had a different opinion. He kept on training even during bed rest and soon proved the doctors to be wrong. Beso resumed his career in armwrestling.
“It was not an easy job to be a sportsman in Georgia in the 90-s. Nowhere to train, no coaches, I had to use a tree for chin-ups. Friends came to help and we had training shells installed in the yard, Beso recollects.
Beso is the world Paralympic champion in armwrestling. He won his first “Golden Bear at the time when the tournaments for Paralympic armwrestlers did not exist.
Nika Tvauri is the first Paralympic swimmer in Georgia. At the swimming pool he had to vouch, that in case he gets drowned, he and his coach will be held responsible. He and the coach have vouched, but it turned out to be not the last obstacle. Nika was often reprimanded for colliding with other people in the pool or when getting out. “They could not believe I was blind. A blind man swimming was beyond their comprehension.
When he was a kid an explosive device blew up in his hands. Nika has lost eyesight and an arm. After numerous operations that took 3-4 years Nika made up his mind to find an occupation instead of sitting at home. Before becoming a professional swimmer he has gone through various occupations.
Dato Kobaliya/track and field
Dato Kobaliya is a cardiosurgeon, his job is to heal human hearts.
He got used to doctors and hospitals since childhood after he fell ill with polio. Doctors did not give much hope to his family, but the future surgeon and sportsman turned out to be a strong man. Dato is both now.
In 2013 Dato made his debut at an international tournament. It was a valuable experience and a success for a starter, he believes. Dato dreams of winning a tournament and standing on the podium with the Georgian flag in hand. Daily training sessions are to improve the results.
Temo Arabidze is a Paralympic dancer. After a traffic accident his chances for survival looked futile, Temo was in coma. But he has survived and after several operations got back to normal life. With one exception – Temo suddenly discovered that he was has a talent for dancing.
He made his debut as a dancer while still in the wheelchair. Now Temo is looking for a new partner to start training for the next Paralympics.
The article has been prepared as part of the student media class of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA)