The 25 Armenian athletes departing for the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, China, will face the 639-strong Chinese, 596-strong US and 470-strong Russian teams. Given the sheer size of the competing teams and the fact, that our national team brought zero gold medals from the past Olympics in Athens, it’s really hard to believe in the success of our tiny Armenian team.
The Olympic torch will be lit in Beijing on 8th month of year 2008, at 8 seconds, 8 minutes past 8 o’clock of local time – as the figure 8 is considered lucky in China. The motto of the Olympics is – “One world, one dream” and that dream will cost China 44 billion dollars – a record amount to be spent on organization of Olympic games.
The history of independent Armenia has only seen one Olympic champion so far – wrestler Armen Nazaryan won Olympic gold in Atlanta, 1996. Overall Armenia has had 13 Olympic champions and we’ve been the best in wrestling, weightlifting, athletics. Clearly the team sports are not one of our strengths.
The Armenian team this year has 6 weightlifters (Hripsime Khurshudyan, Tigran g. Martirosyan, Gevorg Davtyan, Ara Khachatryan, Tigran V. Martirosyan, Edgar Gevorgyan), 4 boxers (Hovhannes Danielyan, Hrachik Javakhyan, Eduard Hambardzumyan, Andranik Hakobyan), 3 free wrestlers (Martin Berberyan, Suren Markosyan, Harutyun Yenokyan), 6 Greco/Roman wrestlers (Roman Amoyan, Karen Mnatsakanyan, Arman Adikyan, Arsen Julfalakyan, Denis Forov, Yuri Patrikeyev), 2 judoists (Hovhannes Davtyan, Armen Nazaryan), 2 track-and-field athletes (Melik Janyan, Ani Khachikyan), 1 swimmer (Mikayel Koloyan) and 1 shooter (Norayr Bakhtamyan).
On my flight to Moscow on July 31st, I was lucky to be on the same plane with our judo team – the guys were wearing the proud uniform of Armenian Olympics team and were sure of their success. Their coaches, however, were more cautious – the Chineeze team is especially strong they said and they have the mental ability of concentrating for the hour of the match in such a manner, that the results resemble that of using doping means. At any rate, the Armenian team has the high sponsorship of Armenian oligarch, head of Armenian Olympic Committee Gagik Tsarukyan, who has promised money, gifts and honor to Armenian gold winners – along with grave threats to make sure they bring home the Olympic gold. Will this kind of ’stick and carrot’ policy force the tiny Armenian team bring medals home? We will see soon – shooter Norayr Bakhtamyan, judoist Hovhannes Davtyan (60 kilos) and boxer Andranik Hakobyan (75 kilos) will be first to compete in Beijing on August 9. All we can do now is prey for them and watch the splendid opening ceremony which is due to start soon and will be broadcast on Armenian Public TV. Go Armenians – Stronger, Faster, Higher!!!