As the 2016 Summer Olympic Games have come to an end I’ve decided to look back at some of the highlights involving Armenian athletes. The list might be incomplete so any additions are welcome in the comment section!
We are of course extremely proud of all of our athletes who have made it into the Olympics those representing Armenia and even our compatriots in the diaspora. Participating in the Olympics is a great honor for every athlete and my congratulations go out to all of them, both winners and other contestants.
Armenia won a total of 4 medals, 1 Gold and 3 Silver, but several Armenian athletes have also won medals participating for other countries. Let us revisit some of the highlights from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Simon Martirosyan – SILVER
Simon Martirosyan (only 19 years old) became Armenia’s first medal winner at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after winning a silver in men’s 105 kg weightlifting on Aug. 15. Martirosyan lifted a total of 417 kg, and placed second only to Ruslan Nurudinov of Uzbekistan, who set an Olympic record with a total weight of 431 kg.
Migran Arutyunyan – (controversial) SILVER
In order to advance to the finals Migran beats Rasul Chunayev of Azerbaijan with 4-1. In the finals Migran Arutyunyan takes silver after suffering a controversial loss against the Serbian opponent Davor Štefanek. Migran was winning by a score of 1-0 with a little over a minute left in the bout when the referee offered a passivity on him, his second, making the score 1-1 with criteria in favor of the Serbian. Typically, the wrestler who is more offensive and taking ground will get at least 1 opportunity from top. Arutyunyan was more aggressive for the entirety of the bout but was given no opportunity from top. The more passive Stefanik was given an inexplicable two chances from top, giving him the 1-1 advantage late with less than a minute to go. Arutyunyan, knowing that time was an issue, promptly stood up from the down position to face his opponent and continue wrestling. With a full minute left to wrestle Arutyunyan pressured forward gaining mat space and yet the officials stayed dormant. Time expired, Arutyunyan was left with a silver medal thus the Serbian athlete got the win on criteria because he was the last one to have “scored” (in this case granted) a point.
As the referees granted the Serbian the win, even though the only legitimate point was scored by Migran, the crowds started to boo and tv commentators and experts equally noted that Migran was unfairly robbed of his gold medal. Listen for example to this Russian commentator in the video bellow.
The Ukrainian and the Armenian wrestling federations have already announced to contest this false decision. An online petition titled: “Mihran Harutyunyan – the victim of injustice” has already gathered over 35.000 signatures. To view and sign the petition visit HERE.
Despite the obvious unfair judgement I think it’s important to remain positive and celebrate this great achievement and congratulate our fellow countrymen for placing our flag on the olympic podium! Congratulations Migran to us and everyone else who has seen the fight you won GOLD!
See bellow the interview with Migran (in Russian), his explanation and disappointing remarks.
Artur Aleksanyan – GOLD
Artur Aleksanyan took gold in the 98 kg (216 lbs) Greco-Roman competition, defeating Yasmany Lugo of Cuba 3-0 in the gold medal match. Aleksanyan spectacularly defeated Turkey’s Cenk Ildem in the semi finals (by 9 – 0) to advance into finals.
His gold gives him two Olympic medals in his career, as he took bronze in London four years ago. A two-time world champion, Aleksanyan entered the Olympics as the top-ranked wrestler in his weight class.
Gor Minasyan – SILVER
Gor Minasyan, just 21 years old, became an Olympic silver medalist in the +105kg division by lifting a total weight of 451 kg! He gave a great performance at the Rio Olympics. Minasyan had previously won a silver medal at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics.
Houry Gebeshian – MADE HISTORY TWICE
Armenian-American gymnast Houry Gebeshian made history on Aug. 7, by becoming the first female gymnast to represent the Republic of Armenia in Olympic competition. Gebeshian competed at the 2016 Olympic Games on the bars, beam, floor, and vault, wearing her all-white leotard featuring a sequin Mount Ararat. She made history the second time when she invented a stunning new move that has since been called after her name. A routine that included a 360 degree turn to get from the low bar to the high bar—in what’s now called “The Gebeshian.”
Yana Egorian – GOLD (Russia)
Yana Egorian born in Yerevan, was the first ethnic Armenian to win gold in Rio. Yana won the second gold medal for Russia at Rio 2016 with a victory over Sofiya Velikaya in the women’s sabre final. The 22-year-old had to come from behind to claim a 15-14 win over Velikaya, 31, the silver medalist from London 2012.
Seda Tutkhalyan – SILVER (Russia)
17 Year old ethnic Armenian artistic gymnast Seda Tutkhalyan (competing for Russia) won a Silver medal in Rio performing with the song “Artsakh”, composed by Ara Gevorkian, and typical Armenian dance moves. As part of Team Russia, she placed 2nd in the women’s artistic team all-around competition and won a silver medal.
Artem Harutyunyan – BRONZE (Germany)
Artem Harutyunyan, boxer from Germany earned a bronze medal in the 64kg division at the Rio Olympics.
Misha Aloyan – SILVER (Russia)
Misha Aloyan born in Bambakashat, Armenia, earned a silver medal in the 52kg weight class competition, competing for Russia. In the final match he lost to Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoirov. Bronze went to Joel Finol of Venezuela and China’s Hu Jianguan.
Adam Krikorian – Coach GOLD (USA)
Adam Krikorian is the coach of the Olympic gold medal winning US water polo team. Adam Krikorian coached the USA team to the most impressive and devastating Olympic water polo tournament run in history. The American women outscored their opponents 73 goals to 32 goals over six games. Saturday’s seven-goal victory margin was the largest in Olympic championship match history. It was especially an emotional victory for Adam because 2 days before the Olympic Games began, Krikorian received tragic news by phone. His 48-year-old brother, Blake, the high-tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Slingbox, had died in the Bay Area of a heart attack while surfing. The victory including the tragedy has received quite some media attention, with headlines such as these:
- Adam Krikorian leads way for U.S. water polo team after tragedy
- Purdy: Golden moment for Adam Krikorian and USA women’s water polo
- US women’s water polo team pay tribute to their coach by dragging him into the pool and then draping him in their medals after his brother died two days before opening ceremony
And many more.
The Mercury news describes the celebration as follows:
“One by one, after the anthem and podium ceremony, the USA water polo women took their gold medals off their own necks.
One by one, they lined up and put all 15 medals over the neck of Adam Krikorian.
Coaches do not receive Olympic medals. Only athletes do. But these athletes wanted their coach to wear and own their medals here Friday afternoon, to know what it felt like, even just for a few minutes.
“We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs,” said Kiley Neushul, the Stanford alum who scored three goals in the USA’s 12-5 victory over Italy. “To put those medals around his neck just felt like giving back what he’s given us.”
The USA Today describes him as:
“Krikorian, one of the most celebrated water polo coaches in U.S. history, has always had a close and special bond with his players. And with everything they had put into defending their title four years later, he convinced himself this moment was about serving them, not him.”
In closing it needs to be said that we as Armenians are extremely proud of and thankful to all our Olympic athletes and those involved with the sports behind the scenes. Our athletes had to overcome a lot of challenges and adversity and many came close to a medal and deserve just as much praise like Nazik Avdalyan who came in 5th in weightlifting, Harutyun Merdinyan who ended up 7th in the finals of Artistic gymnastics, Ruben Aleksanyan who finished 4th in the finals of +105kg weightlifting, and many others.
This years Olympics marks a new beginning for the young Republic of Armenia as we’ve seen a record number Armenian participants (32) ever since the fall of the Soviet Union. We’re still developing and growing as a country, but it’s apparent that there is no lack of talent among Armenians in Armenia and the diaspora and it’s only a matter of time when Armenians will again see their names immortalized in the Olympic hall of fame. Thanks to all the participants, speedy recovery from the injuries and best wishes to everyone in their future endeavors!
PS. I am sure I a handful of Armenian athletes and their achievements in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, therefore I invite everyone to leave me a reminder in the comments section and I will add it to this list.