LONDON (A.W.)—The 2012 London Olympics ended with a spectacular Closing Ceremonies on Aug. 12 and three Olympic medals for Armenia—one silver and two bronze. Below is coverage of the results and athlete participation—25 on Armenia’s national team, and 8 representing countries other than Armenia—alphabetically by sport category.
Before the start of the Games, the 25 athletes representing the Armenian national team aspired for an Olympic medal, and more: As he had promised during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Gagik Tsarukyan, the prominent Armenian businessman and head of the Armenian National Olympic Committee, again offered cash rewards to any athlete who could bring home a medal— $700,000 for gold, $48,000 for silver, and $24,000 for bronze. Tsarukyan and President Serge Sarkisian of Armenia traveled to London to attend the Opening Ceremonies and some of the events.
On the other side of the continent, many Armenian Americans were surprised and disappointed by NBC’s broadcast of the Opening Ceremonies on July 27. Viewers caught only a glimpse of the Armenian delegation; the camera was directed on the flag bearer, and didn’t show the delegation of athletes that followed him. Their entrance was also broadcast without commentary, as was the case with several other nations. This lack of “recognition” prompted Ken Hachikian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), to send a letter expressing his frustration to NBC Chairman Stephen Burke.
Armenia was represented by four competitors in this category. On Aug. 3, Armenia’s Arsen Sargsyan (born in Vanadzor, 1984), placed 25th in the men’s long jump. His teammate Vardan Pahlevanyan (b. Yerevan, 1988) came in at 40th. On Aug. 7, Armenia’s Kristine Harutyunyan (b. Gyumri, 1991), placed 38th in the women’s javelin throw with a result of 47.65 m. The following day, on Aug. 8, her teammate Melik Janoyan (b. Gyumri, 1985) placed 39th in the men’s javelin throw, with a 72.64 m. result.
Competing for Lebanon was sprinter Greta Taslakian (b. Ghadir, Lebanon, 1985) to parents of Armenian and Lebanese origin. Her specialty is the 200 m. sprint, and she’s competed in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, as well as in numerous other championships. On Aug. 6, she qualified for 8th place in round 1 of the women’s 200 m. sprint.
On July 28, in a match witnessed by President Sarkisian, Andranik Hakobyan (b. Etchmiadzin, 1985), was defeated by middle weighter Terrell Gausha of the United States in the men’s middle 75 kg. class in boxing; Hakobyan, a world silver medalist in 2009, was leading by one point after the first two rounds, but lost after a spectacular comeback by Gausha. The match ended in the third round in a (3-4) loss after the referee called an end to the contest.
Later on Aug. 2, boxer Vazgen Safaryants (b. Vladikavkaz, Russia, 1984), competing for Belarus in the men’s light 60 kg. boxing, was defeated by Soonchul Han of the Republic of Korea in round 16. Another Armenian boxer, David Ayrapetyan, representing the Russian Federation (b. Baku, 1983), picked up a bronze medal for Russia in the men’s light fly 49 kg. boxing on Aug. 10, after being defeated (12-13) by Kaeo Pongprayoon of Thailand in the semi-final bout. Earlier on Aug. 8, Ayrapetyan had out-boxed (19-11) Ferhat Pehlivan of Turkey in the quarterfinals. Ayrapetyan was Russia’s team captain at the 2011 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Baku, where he won a bronze medal in the light flyweight division. Later on the evening of Aug. 10, Misha Aloian (b. Karmravan, 1988), also representing the Russian Federation, picked up the second bronze medal for Russia in the men’s fly 53 kg. boxing, following his defeat (11-15) by unseeded Tugstsogt Nyambayar of Mongolia in the semi-final bout. “Misha” (Mikhail Surenovich Aloian) is the reigning world champion in the flyweight division, the #1 seed in the Olympic boxing tournament, and won gold at the 2011 AIBA World Boxing Championships.
Arsen Galstyan (b. Nerkin Karmiraghbyur, 1989), representing the Russian Federation, won that country’s first gold medal in men’s 60 kg. judo on July 28, wrestling the gold (100-0) from the Japanese contender, Hiroaki Hiraoka. The same day, another Armenian representing Armenia in the same category, Hovhannes Davtyan (b. Gyumri, 1983), was eliminated in an earlier round. The following day, the second judoka representing Armenia, Armen Nazaryan (b. Hrazdan, 1982), lost (102-111) to Pawel Zagrodnik of Poland in elimination round 16, in the men’s 66 kg. Earlier he had overcome (100-0) Rayond Ovinou of Papua New Guinea.
Artur Ayvazian (b. Yerevan, 1973), competing for the Ukraine team, qualified 21st for the 50 m. rifle prone on Aug. 3, and 10th for the 50 m. rifle 3 positions after a shoot-off on Aug. 6. Four years ago, Ayvazian won gold in the 50 m. rifle prone at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Another Armenian competing as a shooter, representing Armenia, was Norayr Bakhtamyan (b. Yerevan, 1970), who placed 16th in men’s air pistol on July 28, and 18th in men’s 50 m. pistol on Aug. 5.
On July 29, Armenia’s Anahit Barseghyan (b. Kharkov, 1994) failed to qualify in the women’s 100 m. backstroke swimming event after ranking 4th in heat 1 with a time of 1:08.19 m. Two days later, her teammate Mikayel Koloyan (b. Yerevan, 1983) also failed to qualify in the men’s 100 m. freestyle swimming event after ranking 8th in heat 3 with a time of 53.82 s.
Tvin Moumjoghlian (b. Beirut, 1989), representing Lebanon in women’s singles table tennis, was eliminated in the preliminary round. She started playing table tennis at age nine, under the tutelage of her father Raffi Moumjoghlian, a professional table tennis player and Lebanese champion. Tvin trained in Vienna for the Olympics; she studied economics at the American University of Beirut.
On Aug. 10, the flag bearer for the Armenian delegation at the Opening Ceremonies, Arman Yeremyan (b. Yerevan, 1986), won the quarterfinal in the men’s 80 kg. taekwondo (6-4) against Tommy Mollet of the Netherlands. Later in the afternoon, he lost (1-2) in the semifinal of table A to Argentina’s Sebastian Eduardo Crismanich, and also lost (3-9) to Lutalo Muhammad of Great Britain in the contest for bronze medal A.
Famed tennis player and former world no. 3 David Nalbandian (b. Unquillo, Cordoba Province) competed for Argentina. Nalbandian’s mother is of Italian origin, his father of Armenian origin. He was introduced to tennis as a young boy, and played in a cement court in their backyard built by his Armenian grandfather. He became a professional tennis player at 18. He was eliminated in the first round of the men’s singles and doubles on July 28. His doubles partner was Eduardo Schwank.
On Aug. 9, the U.S. women’s water polo team—coached by Armenian-American Adam Krikorian (b. Santa Clara County, 1974)—won the gold medal (8-5) against unbeaten Spain, in overtime. Earlier, they beat Australia in the semifinal and Italy in the quarterfinal. Krikorian (UCLA ’97) is also the water polo coach at UCLA, where his profile on the website reads: “There may not be another coach in any sport throughout the country who has accomplished more than Adam Krikorian in such a short span. In his 17 years with UCLA’s water polo program as both a player and a coach, Krikorian has won an unprecedented 15 national titles—11 as a head coach, 3 as an assistant coach, and 1 as a student-athlete.”
Armenia was represented by six athletes in weightlifting. Hripsime Khurshudyan (b. Kasakh, 1987) won Armenia’s first Olympic medal on Aug. 5—a bronze in the women’s 75 kg., by edging out the defending 2008 Olympic gold medalist Jang Mi-ran of Korea with a lift of 294 kg. On July 31, her teammate Arakel Mirzoyan (b. Baghramyan, 1989) the competed in men’s 69 kg. weightlifting, qualifying with a snatch of 148 kg., but failed in the clean and jerk attempt. He was coached by his father Oksen Mirzoyan, who won gold in 56 kg. weightlifting for the Soviet Union at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
On Aug. 1, Armenia’s Tigran Martirosyan (b. Gyumri, 1988) failed to qualify for the men’s 77 kg. weightlifting competition. He was the bronze medalist at the Beijing 2008 Olympics with a lift of 338 kg. On the same day, Armenia’s Meline Daluzyan (b. Gyumri, 1988) failed to qualify in the women’s 69 kg. weightlifting, after a snatch attempt of 111 kg. On Aug. 3, Ara Khachatryan (b. Gyumri, 1982) failed to qualify in the men’s 85 kg. On Aug. 4, the sixth weightlifter, Norayr Vardanyan (b. Gyumri, 1987), placed 10th in the men’s 94 kg. His father, Yuri Vardanyan, was also a national weightlifter, and won a gold medal for the Soviet Union at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. That makes four weightlifters who claim Gyumri as their birthplace!
Seven athletes represented Armenia in wrestling. Arsen Julfalakyan (b. Gyumri, 1987) on Aug. 5 brought home Armenia’s second Olympic medal of the 2012 London Games—a silver in the men’s 74 kg. Greco-Roman wrestling—without losing one period on route to the final, but his hopes for a gold medal were dashed by Roman Vlasov of the Russian Federation. He won each of the earlier three matches (3-0) over Daniyar Kobonov (Kyrgyzstan), Aliaksandr Kikiniou (Belarus), and Emin Ahmadov (Azerbaijan). He was coached by his father, Levon Julfalakyan, Armenia’s national wrestling coach, who won gold for the Soviet Union at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In previous years, Arsen won the 2009 European Championship, and a silver and a bronze at the 2010 and 2011 World Championships. On Aug. 6, his teammate Yuri Patrikeev (b. Kirovochipeks, Russia, 1979) lost (1-3) in the 1/8 finals of the 120 kg. Greco-Roman wrestling to Bashir Asgari Babajanzadeh Darzi of Iran. Earlier, he had won (3-1) against Khasan Baroev of the Russian Federation in the qualification round.
On Aug. 7, Armenia brought its medal count at the 2012 London Games up to three, with a bronze awarded to Artur Aleksanyan (b. Gyumri, 1991) in the men’s 96 kg. Greco-Roman wrestling. Aleksanyan defeated Cenk Ildem of Turkey (3-0) in the repechage round 2, before out-wrestling Yunior Estrada Falcon of Cuba (3-0) for the bronze.
Earlier in the afternoon, one of his teammates, Hovhannes Varderesyan (b. Yerevan, 1989), competing in the men’s 66 kg., was defeated in repechage round 1 by the wrestler Pedro Isaac Mulens Herrera from Cuba. On Aug. 10, Armenia’s Mihran Jaburyan (b. Yerevan, 1984) defeated (3-1) Brandon Jesus Escobar Amador of Honduras in the 1/8 finals of the men’s 55 kg. freestyle wrestling, but lost (0-3) in the quarterfinals to Shinichi Yumoto of Japan.
On Aug. 11, Gadzhimurad Nurmagomedov, representing Armenia (b. Makhachkala, Russia, 1987) in the men’s 84 kg. freestyle wrestling, lost (0-5) to Iran’s Ehsan Naser Lashgari in the 1/8 finals, after advancing earlier with a (3-1) win over Yusup Abdusalomov of Tajikistan, the 2008 Beijing Olympics silver medalist. On Aug. 12, Armenia’s David Safaryan (b. Cherkest, Russia, 1989) lost the quarterfinal bout (1-3) to the eventual bronze medal winner, Akzhurek Tanatarov of Kazakhstan, in the men’s 66 kg.
Total medal count
Armenia placed 60th with 3 medals, tied with Belgium and Finland. Calculating ranking based on total medals per million population, Armenia ranked 23rd; the rank drops to 30th when using the weighted medal score per million population. The corresponding rankings for the 2008 Beijing Olympics were 26 and 32 (sandwiched between Russia at 31 and France at 33). Armenia amassed a total of six medals (all bronze) at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.