Ilias Iliadis retires in age of 29
One of the last warriors of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens retires. Ilias Iliadis decided to say goodbye to competitive judo forever after his lost match in first round of the Olympics in Rio.
Of course Iliadis will be remembered by his glorious matches, instead of the last loss against Chinese Cheng XunZhao. Iliadis is synonym for modern judo. Iliadis was one of the first examples that younger athletes could beat older and experienced judoka. The best example is his Olympic title from Athens in 2004, when he arrived into the world of grown ups and took the gold in front of them.
Iliadis was one of the best and most charismatic judoka. If we look at the background of Ilias Iliadis, who was born Georgian under name Jarji Zviadauri, we know that his way to the glory was not simple.
Someone will say that Teddy Riner is the real star of judo, but if we compared Ilias' way to the glory with Riner's most will say, "Iliadis is number one."
Of course, we don't underestimate anybody, but Iliadis didn't have the conditions and staff as Riner have, Iliadis didn't have the physio next to him at all competitions or training camps. He was a one man show, real modern samurai, who built the team of Greece where they are now.
"This is the last Olympics of my life. The last competition of my life. I'm retiring. It ends here. This is the time to stop. Everything in life has its time. I'm not happy about it but it's over. I said before: win or lose, this is it."
Let's remember on another success of Iliadis, it was 2008 Olympic period, and Ilias Iliadis is still the only one who qualifed for the Olympic Games in two different categories. He was qualified in the category U90 and U100kg, he could compete in 90kg only and category above team of Greece could choose who they want to sent. Can you imagine how big Iliadis was?
Take a look at the chronological gallery of Ilias Iliadis from 2004 until his last event in Rio 2016.
17-year old kid, in his host city of Athens will have his experience at the Olympic Games. On the day of U81kg when Iliadis stepped on the mat, he didn't have a clue that he became Olympic Champion and become one of the best athletes in Judo ever.
Next big medal didn't wait for long time but this time in another weight category U90kg, as Iliadis is silver medalist at the World Championships in Cairo. In that time, World Championships were held each two years.
In Rio de Janeiro, Iliadis defended his silver medal from Cairo. Georgian Irakli Tsirekidze won against him in the final, who will later became Olympic Champion in Bejing.
Second Olympics for Iliadis, and he is current Olympic Champion and a flag bearer for Greece. Unfortunately the draw brought him in the first round the hardest opponent that he could imagine. On the other side it was U90kg 2000 Sydney Olympic Champion and bronze medalist from last Olympics, Mark Huizinga of the Netherlands. Iliadis was shocked, he was ruled out in the first round of the Olympic Games. Before those Olympics they fought three times, with the victory for Huizinga, total head to head was 2-2.
photo by: David Finch
At the World's in Rotterdam, Iliadis won his first round match against Liparteliani of Georgia, but again a shock for him, as he lost match against Slovakian Milan Randl.
Bronze for Iliadis at Europeans Championships in Vienna, Marcus Nyman of Sweden had there his best event, as he is European Champion. Later that year, Iliadis is finally back at his throne, he is for the first time World Champion. In final of World Championships in Tokyo he beat home favorite Daiki Nishiyama.
Iliadis is European Champion in Istanbul, Kirill Denisov of Russia lost final against Iliadis. Second gold from the World Championships didn't wait long. In august of 2011, France was host of the World Championships. Where better to win gold instead of Bercy in Paris. "Ilia" walked through eliminations over Krawczyk (POL), Bouyacoub (ALG), Remarenco (MDA in that time), Pessanha (BRA) and in SF against Denisov (RUS). Replay of the last Worlds happen again, Ilias Iliadis won against Daiki Nishiyama in final match of the U90kg.
Third Olympics for Iliadis, and now he is experienced and serious. He doesn't want repeat Beijing, especially as he is current double World medalist in the category U90kg this time. Everything was smooth, Randl (SVK) in first round, Bauza (LTU) in second, and then REVENGE. Kiril Denisov beat him and gave him back for Europeans and Worlds. Iliadis is coming back in game through repachage by win over Mark Anthony (AUS) and in fight for bronze he was better against Tiago Camilo (BRA).
European Championships in Budapest, everything is read for Iliadis to defend his title but unfortunately was not going how it should be. In first round he was out by Aleksandr Mameljuk of Estonia. Another World Championships, and Iliadis is still current World Champion, but London silver medalist Asley Gonzalez of Cuba beat him and goes into the final where later he became new World Champion. In fight for bronze, Iliadis won against Joakim Dvarby (SWE).
One of the best World Championships ever in judo. Host was Chelyabinsk, Russia. Even today judokas, coaches, spectators are speaking about one of the best World Championships ever. It will stay in good thoughts of Iliadis as well, as he took his World title back and he is for the third time World Champion. In final he was better against rising star Krisztian Toth of Hungary.
It will not be remembered as a good one for Iliadis. Injures by injuries. But will to come at the World Championships was stronger. At the World Championships in Astana, Iliadis lost in second round against Mongolian Otgonbaatar Lkhagvasuren. Earlier in June, he was bronze medalist at the first European Games held in Baku.
Ilias Iliadis without two medals from the two major events. In April he was without podium in Kazan at the Europeans while on his last fight, Olympic Games, he lost against Chinese Cheng.
Ilias ILIADIS, thank you very much for all those great moments sharing with us. On the mat and outside of the mat. Your are a true role model and a big personality. Next step we wish you ent into the IJF HALL OF FAME!