The Coach Who Never Gave Up

Author: Suren Stepanyan


Armenian-Azerbaijani Felix Aliyev never stopped coaching. When the war between the two former Soviet republics broke out over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, mutual hatred peaked, yet the now 78-year-old weightlifting trainer did not flee his native land, then Soviet Armenia. Neither did his Azerbaijani father, who died in 1998 and was buried in Armenia.

The softly-spoken, now grey-haired coach from Echmiadzin has been walking through the emblazoned iron door of the weightlifting school of Geghakert, about 25 kilometres from the capital Yerevan, everyday for the last 47 years, training hundreds of sportsmen - some of them going on to become national, European, World, and Olympic medalists.