By Duncan Mackay

A new scheme to help encourage disabled youngsters has been set up in AzerbaijanOctober 1 - A new children's Paralympic Movement is to be set-up in Azerbaijan to try to help encourage more youngsters with disabilities take up sport. 

The scheme was approved by the National Paralympic Committee of Azerbaijan Republic at a meeting of its ruling Executive Board in Baku, following resolution that had originally been passed in August.

Azerbaijani officials claim that the project will help to integrate disabled children into the society.

Ilham Zakiyev, a judoka who is blind and winner of three Paralympic medals, including gold at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, presented medals to the first participants at a special ceremony

They were nine-year-old Murad Mammadov, like him a judoka, and 14-year-old Alivahid Zeynally, a fencer. 

Double Paralympic gold medallist Ilham Zakiyev carries Azerbaijan's flag during the Opening Ceremony of London 2012Double Paralympic gold medallist Ilham Zakiyev carries Azerbaijan's flag during the Opening Ceremony of London 2012

The new scheme is a key part of a strategic plan designed to help Azerbaijan prepare for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. 

The plan also includes expansion of the Para-sport in all regions of the country, helping fund athletes prepare for major competitions and the expansion of relations with other international sports organisations.

Azerbaijan made their debut in the Paralympics at Atlanta 1996, when they were represented by just two athletes.

They won their first medal at Sydney four years later, a silver for Yelena Taranova in the mixed free pistol SH1, and their first gold at Athens 2004, Oleg Panyutin, in the F12 long jump.

That was followed by a gold medal for Zakiyev in the over 100 kilogram category, a title he retained at Beijing 2008, one of two victories for Azerbaijan at those Games.

At London 2012 21 athletes competed in six sports with Azerbaijan finished 27th overall with a total of 12 medals, including four gold.

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