Judo champ Kazakova aiming for podium at London Paralympics
While the Russians dominate at the Winter Paralympics, it is the Chinese who are unquestionable leaders when it comes to the summer portion of the Games.
However, the biggest country on Earth could put up a decent fight against the world's most-populous nation as soon as this summer.
“The upcoming Paralympics in London could become the visually impaired Madina Kazakova's third successful podium attempt,” Sir Philip Craven, International Paralympic Committee president, stressed.
The Dagestan native won her maiden Paralympic gold at the 2004 Athens Games, but failed to repeat that feat four years later in Beijing, settling for bronze.
But London is slowly dawning on Madina as she dreams of ending her career with another piece of Paralympic silverware.
“I was thinking of retiring after the 2004 Games, I told myself: ‘This is it. This is the last time,’” Kazakova told RT. “But then I got to go to the Games again. But this time I’m definitely going to retire.”
Dagestan's sports world is mostly famous for its multiple freestyle wrestling Olympic champions. This Russian republic is predominantly Muslim and the majority of athletes are male.
Madina Kazakova's example could prop a rise in demand for women in sports, which are already becoming a regular sight in Dagestan's gyms.
“I don’t get negative comments that often,” she said. “Of course, some people say that girls should stay home and cook dinner. But none of my friends or fellow athletes would ever say such a thing. They always treat me with respect. They are always happy for me. None of them thinks that I am doing something inappropriate.”
Madina's success in life spans far beyond her sporting glory. Until recently she had the full support of her family and friends.
But that circle has now been complemented by another two die-hard supporters – her husband and newborn son, who will hopefully witness their favorite woman reach the top of the Paralympic podium once more.