By Emily Goddard

Ilham Zakiyev 140513May 15 - Ilham Zakiyev, Azerbaijan's two-time Paralympic judo champion, has claimed his nation's success at London 2012, where they finished third on the medal table for the sport, has given the team the motivation to win even more medals at Rio 2016.

Azerbaijan secured two gold medals, won by Ramin Ibrahimov in the men's -60kg and Afag Sultanova in the women's -57kg, and one bronze medal, claimed by Zakiyev (pictured top) in the +100kg class, at last summer's Paralympics and the visually impaired judoka explained that the medals have already inspired the nation's athletes for the next Games in three years time.

"Our results stimulate us for new goals," Zakiyev, who won Paralympic golds at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, told

"For today our main goal is to successfully represent our country at the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

"I want the athletes to know that no matter whether they win or lose, they should just proudly represent their country.

"I want them to know that our national flag always must be high.

"I want to meet the expectations bestowed upon me further in Rio 2016.

"This is my job and I love my job.

"I enjoy it even more when the national anthem sounds and the national flag of my country is raised to honour my victories."

Ilham Aliyev is a strong supporter of Paralympic judoIlham Aliyev is a strong supporter of Paralympic judo

The 33-year-old Zakiyev, who is often credited with helping to raise the profile of judo in Azerbaijan after his feats at the Athens and Beijing Games, explained how the country's President, Ilham Aliyev, who is also head of the National Olympic Committee, is working hard to support the sport's development still further.

In particular, Aliyev built a specific training complex for judo to boost preparations for major international competitions following Beijing 2008.

"The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan is also the President of the National Olympic Committee, so his attention to sport is quite explainable," Zakiyev said.

"All of our social and financial problems are solved by the Government.

"We don't even care about these problems and focus our attention only on the training process."

Azerbaijan's judoka are gearing up to compete at this year's European Championships in November, while the Rio Paralympic Games will take place on September 9-20 in 2016.

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