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The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi: Spotlight Armenia

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By Grant Pakhtigian
March 3, 2014

The year 2014 was in play for the last weekend at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  While much of the attention was on men’s ice hockey, many Armenian Americans followed the four-member Team Armenia. With thoughts of Gold, Silver and Bronze, each competitor hoped to capture and write his and her name in the record books.

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Katya Galystyan (Getty Images)

As we think of the XXII Olympiad, we can point to a breakthrough competitor, Katya Galystyan who trail-blazed through this year’s cross-country event-the 10K. Born in 1993, on the first of January, Galystyan is the only woman to represent Armenia at the Sochi games. She placed 64th out of 76 competitors.

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Arman Serabrakian

Another bright star is Armenian-American Arman Serabrakian. A dual citizen and second year medical student at Temple University in Pennsylvania, Serebrakian had the support of his fellow Armenian and American compatriots. “This is truly one of the best moments of my life, and I am happy to share it with my Temple family,” he said according to a university announcement. Arman is Armenia’s top ranked alpine skier. While an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado, he achieved four top-10 NCAA finishes. But getting to Sochi wasn’t easy. Online fundraisers were held by his supporters through friends of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), to help cover his trip and other expenses. FLArmenians was proud to contribute a nominal sum to assist the young Serabrakian achieve his life-long dream of being an Olympian. He competed in men’s giant slalom, the high-speed roller coaster of skiing. Clocks have long held speeds of 70-90 MPH in the downhill. Arman’s placement of 54 and 42, combined for 46th place overall, and took 2-hour heats on three different runs, totaling approximately 6+/- hours in competition. Then, as the Olympics came to a close, Arman received some exciting news. “Holy moly…I will be FLAG BEARER for the closing ceremony tonight. Wow what an honor!” he wrote on his Facebook page.

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Sergey Mikayelyan

Olympian Sergey Mikayelyan raced through the men’s skiathlon and wound up on the other end as the number 46 pacer. With his six-days-a-week training sessions and only 21 years old, he has shown these Winter Games that he is a skier to be reckoned with now and in years to come.  Sochi was Mikayelyan’s second Olympic experience, as he participated in the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Colombia at the tender age of 17.

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Artur Yeghoyan (Getty Images)

The fourth Olympian from Armenia is Artur Yeghoyan. At 23, he has a fruitful career ahead of him.  Cross-country is one of the races he competes in, along with the 15K and men’s skiathlon.

In addition, Yerevan got some extra attention during these Olympics. Given its proximity to Sochi, the Japanese women’s figure skating team apparently chose to practice in the Armenian capital, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Although team Armenian did not win any medals in the 2014 Winter Games they represented their country well. 1994 was the year Armenians popped the cork, realizing they were on the grand stage of the Olympics. History tells us that the Summer Games have been more productive than the Winter events for the tiny republic in the South Caucasus.  Since 1996’s summer games in Atlanta, the colors of red, blue and orange have earned 12 medals; nine bronze, two silver and one gold.

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Armenian Medalists at the 2012 London Olympic Games

By Grant Pakhtigian
FLArmenians Sports Contributor

August 10, 2012

As we are tuned into the Summer Games for this Fortnight in London 2012, our hopes for Armenia’s medalists run deep and wide. We are as wide as the Diaspora and deep as Armenia’s locals, it’s towns, villages and fertile soil in sporting history.

With our hopes for a showing like never before, twenty-five Armenian Olympians, with a slight caveat of not getting to be seen on TV at this year’s Opening Ceremonies, take their place and put their best foot forward every four years in this hallmark 30th Olympiad.

With the character and principals of fairness and truth, the games hold a distinct character led by International Olympic committee chief Jacques Rogge. On this 15th day of competition, we have some blips on the radar of medals from this little independent state.

Female Olympian Hripsime Khurshudyan was the first Armenian medalist in these games, and the first female athlete from Armenia to ever medal in any sport. In Weightlifting’s +75kg (super-heavy weight), she struck Bronze for her efforts.

She was soon followed by Arsen Julfalakyan in Greco-Roman Wrestling. He took the Silver medal by facing his last opponent Roman Vlasov of Russia in the +74 kg category. Meanwhile in the wrestling circle Arthur Aleksanyan took Bronze in the +96kg Greco-Roman category.

Mikayel Koloyan, who competed in the pool for the 100-meter freestyle, took away a mark of 53.82 and finished with a ranking of 8. Along with fellow swimmers, 18-year-old Anahit Barseghyan finished just out of the medal race, landing in 4th in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 1:08:19.

The U.S. won Gold in Water Polo under Armenian-American Team USA Head Coach Adam Krikorian, with his fearless assistants not far behind. The final jump in the pool for all those on deck after victory were awash in their congratulatory baptismal dip in the pool. Adam Krikorian is the Women’s Water Polo Head Coach at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

While another Armenian-American, Arthur Akopyan, personal coach for U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney, watched his pupil win Silver in the individual Vault competition.

Several Armenian athletes have yet to finish their events. They include 26-year-old Arman Yeremyan in Tae Kwon Do, and 27-year-old Mihran Jaburyan in +55kg Freestyle Wrestling. Armenia has garnered a total of three medals thus far.

The medal count represents two Bronze, one for Weightlifting, one for Wrestling, and one Silver for free style Wrestling.

Armen Nazaryan who competes in Judo scored a win moving through the draw but was stopped by fellow challenger Pawel Zagrodnik of Poland.

Kristine Harutyunyan, 21, competes in the Javelin throw. Her first mark was 47.65 feet, and she is from Gyumri. Olympian Tigran Martirosyan, also from Gyumri is 24 years old and competes in the +77 kg Weightlifting discipline.

Andranik Hagopian of Etchmiadzin competes as a middleweight boxer and won his round of 32 versus Terrell Gausha of the United States. Vardan Pahlevanyan won his qualifying event in men’s long jump.

For 2012, most Armenian competitors are just becoming young adults and we look forward in the coming years to more brilliant performances based from talented, supported, creative and youthful hopefuls.

Grant Pakhtigian is a sports writer for print and online sports publications. He received his Bachelors of Business Administration in Accounting from St. Thomas University in Miami and resides in West Palm Beach, Florida.