Armenia’s Bronze Age
Armenian athletes win six bronze medals
Published: Saturday August 23, 2008
Tigran, or Little Tigran as they call him because of his age and his weight category (69 kg) is wise beyond his years. And also very strong.
"I was in the best athletic shape I could be in when I went to Beijing," he said. But like other athletes, he admits that the pressure of the competition can play a role in the outcome. Another thing that was an impediment according to the young athlete was the procedure for testing athletes for doping. He said that oftentimes they would be woken up at 7:30 in the morning and told to go to the doping center to be tested. Sometimes they would be tested three times a day. He, like Head Coach Ashot Mkhitarian, said that after a time they began questioning the testing procedure and felt like they were being psychologically tested as well. "We began to think that something was seriously wrong," Tigran said.
Regardless of the medal color, the doping procedures, and the pressure, Tigran said it was all an amazing experience and worth all the hard work and deprivation. "The unbelievable reception that we received at the airport in Yerevan after returning from the Olympic Games is something I will never forget," the young athlete said with great emotion. "A lot has changed in Armenia in sport. There are new sports centers and schools opening and there is a lot of attention being paid to sporting activities now. I'm not saying that everything is perfect; but we are definitely on the right road," Tigran said.
Armenia's Olympic team has brought home six medals from the XXIX Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.
Armenia's Olympic team participated with 25 athletes - six in weightlifting, six in Greco-Roman wrestling, four in boxing, three in free-style wrestling, two in judo, two in track and field, one in shooting, and one in swimming.
Winning six medals was obviously a huge accomplishment. At the end of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Armenia's athletes returned home empty-handed. In the 2000 Games they earned one bronze medal.
The first of Armenia's Olympic medals this year was won in the Greco-Roman wrestling 55 kg category by Roman Amoian, 2006 European champion who in the semi-finals was defeated by Azerbaijan's Rovshan Bayramov by a score of 3-11. In the finals, Bayramov was defeated by the Russian Federation's Nazyr Mankiev.
It was on the same day, August 12, that Tigran G. Martirosian won his bronze medal. Tigran, who is the 2008 European Champion, and hails from the city of Gyumri, had a total combined weight of 338 kg. The total weight that Tigran lifted was the same as that lifted by the athlete from France; however because he himself was lighter, he was able to garner the bronze medal.
Gevorg Davtian, the 2007 World Championship silver medalist and European champion in the 77 kg weightlifting category and Tigran V. Martirosian, the 2008 European champion in the 85kg weightlifting category also won bronze medals.
In an interview with the Armenian Reporter, Tigran V. Martirosian said the athletes realized that a whole nation's hopes were placed on their shoulders as they traveled to China to take part in the XXIX Summer Games. "That sentiment helped us get through the grueling competition. Although we were hoping for gold, during the games you never know what's going to happen," said the 24 year-old athlete. He acknowledges that participating in the Olympics and being one of the top athletes in the world in weightlifting comes with many hardships but he says it's all worth it. "Young boys and girls must be active in sports because there are a lot of rewards," Tigran said.
Armenia's fifth bronze medal went to Yuri Patrikeev, in the 120 kg Greco-Roman wrestling category. Yuri was the 2007 World Championship bronze medalist and 2008 European Champion.
The sixth and final bronze medal was won by Hrachia Javakhian in the 60 kg boxing competition. Hrachia was the 2006 European Championship silver medalist.
Men's head coach Ashot Mkhitarian said, in an interview with the Armenian Reporter, that the thing that he was most proud of was the final result, what the young athletes had been able to accomplish. "You have to understand that all of this was a result of buckets of sweat, years and years of dedication, and unimaginable hardship. The boys have dedicated their whole lives to their sport. As their coach, you can't imagine how nervous I was, how nervous we all were. After all, as European champions in weightlifting we had something to prove and we needed to show our strength," said the coach.
"They are my boys. We have a father-son relationship. We have been together for so many years now." The men's head coach said that this was the third Olympic Games that he had been to as coach and said that it was the most organized Olympics he had seen. "The Chinese government had done everything to make sure that everything went smoothly. But it was obvious that they were intent on winning as many medals as possible, at any cost," he added. Mr. Mkhitaryan said that the one major problem that they encountered was with the testing-for-doping procedure. "Our athletes were being constantly asked to present themselves at the doping center. We never once saw a Chinese athlete there," he said.
Biurakn Hakhverdian, 22, an ethnic Armenian born in the Netherlands, won a gold medal as part of the Dutch women's water polo team. Her team beat the United States 9-8.
Artur Ayvazyan, 35, a native of Yerevan representing Ukraine, won a gold medal for shooting.
Another Armenian representing Ukraine, 26-year-old Armen Vartanian won the bronze medal in the 66 kg Greco-Roman wrestling competition.
Representing Sweden was yet another ethnic Armenian, Ara Abrahamian. He won a bronze medal in the 84 kg Greco-Roman wrestling category; he was later stripped of his medal by the International Olympic Committee for conduct unbecoming. Immediately following the medal presentations he had placed his medal on the mat and walked out in protest, claiming that the judging had been rigged.