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Ilya Ilyin of Kazakhstan sets a new world record and wins the gold medal in the Men''s 94kg Weightlifting final on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 4, 2012 in London, England. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Ilya Ilyin: Kazakhstan’s ‘designer’ weightlifting champion

16 Oct 2012
In the 12th of our series of 20 OCA Award winners from the London Olympics, Kazakhstan’s Ilya Ilyin proves to be a worthy champion in the tough world of weightlifting. The OCA Awards will be presented at the OCA Banquet in Macau, China, on November 8. Ilya Ilyin is an interesting character. Not only for his two weightlifting gold medals at the Olympic Games; first in Beijing in 2008 and then defending his 94kg title at London 2012.

But also for his hobbies and interests, which include break dancing and billiards, launching his own designer brand of men’s wear and taking part in the television singing contest Two Stars. It is his weightlifting, however, that has made him a true star. In London he broke two world records on his way to gold, first by lifting 233kg in the clean and jerk and then with his combined total of 418kg.

Reflecting on his personal development from 2008 to 2012, he said: “In Beijing I was four years younger and now I'm a different person. "I've had different experiences and my personality has changed. The training was not that much different but the quality of my victory here is very, very different. I gave everything for this victory. It's not just a gold medal for me, it's my personal triumph.”

Ilya’s brother, Alexei, is the champion of Kazakhstan in boxing in the 69kg category. His wife, Natalia Kulakova, is a handball player. Ilya, 24, took up the sport at the age of eight because his brother took him to training. His ambition is to open a sports school in his native Kyzylorda and a weightlifting school in Astana.

He was Kazakhstan's first ever weightlifting world champion in either junior or senior competition, and in 2005 and 2006 he held both the junior and senior world championship titles at the same time.
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