At the beginning of 2008, the current world champion in freestyle wrestling, 20-year-old heavyweight Bilyal Makhov, was calmly preparing for the new season. It could be a triumph for him. After all, there was very little time left before the Olympics in Beijing, and the leader of the world wrestling was completely ready for the battle for gold. at that time Magomed Huseynov.“Bilal was poisoned during a training camp of our team in Makhachkala,” he recalls in a conversation with Sport. “In the evening, he suddenly felt very ill. It’s good that the hospital was nearby. The doctors said that he was poisoned with mercury. Investigation of the scandal did not lead to anything. However, the interlocutor of the agency is sure that the background of what happened is well known to everyone.“Then, of course, no one was caught by the hand,” the specialist added. “But very many people know and suspect who did it and who benefited. Only the one who fought in his weight could poison Makhov. And after all, only one person was injured – But the Almighty gave him a lot of health. He spent a week in the hospital, although after such a poisoning, of course, he could not recover for a very long time. A strong character helped him achieve a lot later. “
A remark is appropriate here. Dagestan has been one of the flagships of freestyle wrestling not only in Russia but also in the world for many years. There are many high-class coaches and athletes in the region, sometimes it is more difficult to become the first in the republic than to win the world championship. A native of Kabardino-Balkaria, Makhov trained with Huseynov in Khasavyurt, and there were strong heavyweights, for example, in Makhachkala. Maybe this is the reason for what happened?The future heavyweight came to Huseynov at the age of 14, and later grew up to 197 centimeters and gained weight in the region of 120 kilograms.
“After the championship of Russia in Maikop, Bilal came up and said: “I want to train with you.” And when (coach) Yuri Shakhmuradov and I came to their house to ask them to let him go to us, Bilal said: “Mom, I want to learn how to wrestle.” When he arrived in Khasavyurt, he already wore the 46th shoe size, and I ordered a special bed for him, because he simply did not fit in the usual one. “
By the way, the Russian team still won gold in Beijing. True, Bakhtiyar Akhmedov, who became the champion of the country in 2008, finished second in the tournament in China. But after years later the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to disqualify for doping the champion of the Games Ossetian Artur Taymazov, who played for the national team of Uzbekistan, the athlete from Makhachkala received Olympic gold.
br>Cross on a career? Don't even think!
Many experts then did not believe that Makhov would be able to get out of a difficult situation. There were also those who confidently considered the career of a wrestler already completed. Everything that Bilyal went through at that time is known only to himself and his relatives. But the wrestler was able to do the almost impossible. Already in 2009, he went to the World Championship and won it again, without giving up a single point to his rivals!And a year later he won again, becoming a three-time world champion. In 2011, Makhov won silver, losing to ex-Russian Alexei Shemarov, who played for the Belarusian national team. However, before the debut Games-2012, the team leader was one of the main contenders for gold.
The athlete confidently walked to the decisive battle, but in the semifinals he lost to his opponent from Georgia, Davit Modzmanashvili. Then Makhov won the match for the bronze medal, but at the ceremony he looked extremely upset. And stepping down from the podium, he said: “Bronze is not a medal.”
By the way, fate subsequently put everything in its place. Georgian wrestler and Olympic winner Taymazov was punished by the IOC for doping. In the summer of 2020, Makhov and the Iranian Komail Ghasemi, who lost to Taymazov in another semi-final, were declared the Olympic champions of London. , leading an unequal battle with the consequences of mercury vapor poisoning.
“Bilal still annually travels to European clinics for rehabilitation,” the representative of the athlete Tigran Avanyan reveals to Sports details. “He constantly needs the help of doctors, because mercury has not completely left his body. It will never come out. immediately after the poisoning. After all, against the background of what happened, Bilal's body began to crumble – and the neck, and back, and knees, and shoulders. Therefore, he is constantly in pain. “
“Once a piece of his spine broke off, he was urgently operated on in 2018,” Avanyan emphasized. “By the way, it was performed by the famous surgeon Ilya Pekarsky, who also operated on our famous figure skater (two-time Olympic champion) Evgeni Plushenko. For all these years, Bilyal underwent more than one complex operation, not two, but several.For a while, many simply forgot about Makhov. But when he returned to the carpet, he threw everyone into amazement. At the 2014 World Championships, Bilal decided to compete in a different kind of wrestling – Greco-Roman. It wasn't an experiment. Indeed, in 2006, at the world championship, the junior had 10 bouts in two types of programs in three days and won nine of them. As a result – gold in freestyle wrestling and bronze in Greco-Roman. The choice before moving to the adult level was a serious one. He went to freestyle wrestling.
After several training camps with the team at the 2014 World Championship, the wrestler won bronze in the classics tournament. And in 2015, he completely shocked everyone, for the first time in the history of Russian wrestling, he won two national championships – both among the “Greco-Romans” and in the freestyle wrestling!
But that was not all. The “classics” then had certain problems in the heavyweight category and Makhov went to the 2015 World Championship as a participant in two tournaments at once. He did not let the team down again, winning bronze medals in two wrestling styles and winning both tickets for Russia to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Shock in Brazil
It seemed that now, having gone through such incredible difficulties, Makhov could crown his career with the gold medal of the Olympics. However, the beginning of the tournament in Rio de Janeiro shocked both fans and specialists. The Russian confidently won with a score of 2-0 and controlled the course of the fight, but made a mistake in the last minute. With a score of 2-2, he lost to his opponent. And he lost in the next round. So for Bilyal the Olympics ended, in fact, without starting.“To be honest, I still can’t explain it myself,” Bilal said before flying to Moscow. “Apparently, as they say, it’s not fate. From above, a medal was not prepared for me at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Therefore, I just I accept everything as it is.”
And he sadly added: “I was in a very good condition, as never before. I have never felt so good: morally, physically, and emotionally. I was 100% confident in myself and that I was completely ready. During the fight, I controlled everything, felt everything. I will tell you this: for the first time in my life, I went to the competition when I didn’t have any pain. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t understand my feelings: how to fight when you nothing to worry about.
“It’s a shame and very unpleasant, because I did a lot of work,” Makhov continued. “There were a lot of injuries in my career, I had to force myself to recover, look for motivation to continue training. When you go through all the difficulties and everything goes completely wrong , as you would like, of course, it can be insulting. But we are men and we take everything for granted. We hold any blows, we do not regret anything we have done. “
However, not everything is evaluated by personal achievements. Thanks to the example and invaluable help of Makhov, the promising “classic” Sergey Semenov blossomed in the Russian national team and in a short time reached a new level. So much so that at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics he won bronze medals, and in 2018 he won the world championship. In each of his successes there is a significant contribution of Bilyal.After the Games in Brazil, the athlete's chronic health problems worsened again. As Avanyan recalls, “he had a very tough period from 2017 to 2019, due to the need for constant rehabilitation, Bilal missed almost two years.”
Makhov, for various reasons, did not succeed in obtaining the right to speak at his third Olympics. But even without this, he left a bright mark on the world struggle. Now Bilal is engaged in business in the field of agriculture in his native Kabardino-Balkaria. By the way, Makhov is the first and only Olympic freestyle wrestling champion in the history of his region. Huseynov.” But he is a good fellow, he found his place in life and is raising two daughters. He deservedly became an Olympic champion. Bilyal Makhov is a great wrestler and a courageous person. One can talk for a very long time about the character, willpower and feats that he accomplished on the carpet “A devoted person and a good friend. He is like a son to me.”
“Although I used to scold him and taught him wisdom, he was very well-mannered and a literate guy,” the coach added. “Bilal graduated from a music school in piano, if they saw what books he reads. It's just fantastic, rare athletes choose such authors. If it were not for the case of poisoning, then Bilyal could have won two Olympics “Maybe three. Now in Russia they can't find heavyweights who would fight for the country. They simply don't exist.” — such as Bilyal”.