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DIMITRIJEVIC Zeljko
Sport Para athletics
NPC Serbia   
GenderMen
Age49
Place of BirthPetrovac na Mlavi, YUG
Human Interest
Impairment Information
Type of Impairment
Spinal Cord Injuries
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
F51
Further Personal Information
Residence
Belgrade, SRB
Occupation
Athlete, Coach
Languages
Serbian
Higher education
Coaching - University of Nis: Serbia
Sport Specific Information
When and where did you begin this sport?
He took up Para athletics in 1997 in Belgrade, Serbia.
Why this sport?
He played football before his accident, then took up Para sport to remain active and as a form of recreation. His talent was noticed by coach Vlastimir Golubovic.
Club / Team
AK Pogledi: Belgrade, SRB
Name of coach
Jovan Dovric, SRB, from 2019
Senior International Debut
Year
2012
Competing for
Serbia
General Interest
Hobbies
Watching films and sport on television. (Athlete, 06 Nov 2019)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold in club throw at the Paralympic Games in 2012 and 2016. (Athlete, 06 Nov 2019)
Most influential person in career
Serbian Para athlete Drazenko Mitrovic. (Athlete, 06 Nov 2019)
Hero / Idol
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, Serbian Para athlete Drazenko Mitrovic. (Athlete, 06 Nov 2019)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"The most important thing is will. Don't give up, always use the words, 'I can, I want, I wish'. There is no going back." (sportklub.rs, 31 Dec 2019)
Awards and honours
He was Serbia's flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the 2018 European Championships in Berlin, Germany. (IPC, 20 Aug 2018)

In 2015 and 2016 he was named the Best Male Para Athlete in Belgrade, Serbia. (Klub Sampiona YouTube channel, 03 Jun 2017; sportskisavezbeograda.org.rs, 25 Dec 2015)

In 2012, 2015, and 2017 he was named Male Athlete of the Year by the Paralympic Committee of Serbia [PKS]. (b92.net, 26 Aug 2016; novosti.rs, 06 Feb 2013; blic.rs, 01 Mar 2018)

In 2012 he was presented with the Majska Nagrada award, the most prestigious honour given by the Sports Association of Serbia. (b92.net, 26 Aug 2016)
Milestones
He became the first Serbian athlete to win a gold medal at the Paralympic Games, following his victory in the F31/32/51 club throw at the 2012 Games in London. (SportsDeskOnline, 07 Aug 2018; paralympic.org, 03 Feb 2014)
Ambitions
To win a gold medal at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (sportklub.rs, 31 Dec 2019)
Impairment
In June 1990 he dived into the River Mlava in Serbia and hit a rock. The injuries he sustained resulted in quadriplegia. (Klub Sampiona YouTube channel, 03 Jun 2017; slobodnaevropa.org, 02 Mar 2013)
Other information
PERSONAL LOSS
He was particularly affected when his teammate and fellow club thrower, Milos Mitic, died at age 30 in September 2018. "He was like a brother to me. We were together at so many events and so often we proudly listened to our anthem on the podium. During every major competition, I'm going to throw having him in my mind and heart. I have another reason to give my best now. Milos will be in my heart and in my every throw." (ZdravljeTV channel on YouTube, 08 Oct 2018)

RETIREMENT AND RETURN
He announced his retirement from the sport following his gold medal in the F51 club throw at the 2017 World Championships in London, England. "If I could choose how I want to end my career, I could not imagine a better way than this." He then decided to return to the sport a few months later. "I wanted to retire, but people persuaded me to continue training to claim more gold medals for Serbia." (novosti.rs, 19 Jul 2017; rtv.rs, 03 Apr 2018; alo.rs, 08 Mar 2018)

FAMILY
He was raised by his grandmother. "She is my angel in heaven who protects me and gives me strength. She was a great fighter and she taught me to fight. I couldn't give her all she deserved when she was alive, but now I dedicate everything I achieve to her." (TV Prva Exploziv, 24 Feb 2017)

Competition Highlights (historical)
Paralympic Games
Rank Year Event Result
1 2012 Club Throw F31/32/51 26.88
1 2016 Club Throw F51 29.96
World Championships
Rank Year Event Result
1 2015 Club Throw F51 26.29
1 2017 Club Throw F51 31.99
1 2019 Club Throw F51 33.82
European Championships
Rank Year Event Result
1 2016 Club Throw F51 27.04
1 2018 Club Throw F51 32.23