Page 1

DAVAJ, DAVAJ! SPORTING SPIRIT IN ARMENIA

photography & text by Andrรกs Zoltai

2018


INTRODUCTION

S

ports successes can

highly optimistic and continue

experience togetherness and

represent the power

fighting for success. The

patriotism through these sport

of a nation’s identity,

winner takes it all – personal

results.

especially for a poor and

and material success, social

isolated country like Armenia,

respect, and most of all,

After gaining independence

possessing deep roots in

glory for the nation of

in 1991, the country was

sports since ancient times.

Armenia.

very fragile, suffering

In fact, the tragic history

from economic difficulties

of Armenia (genocide, wars,

Armenian athletes – including

and long-lasting war

earthquake) strengthened the

ethnic Armenians born abroad,

conflict. However, successful

consciousness of collective

and those who emigrated –

sports such as wrestling,

struggle in Armenians’ mind.

won a total of 88 medals

weightlifting, and gymnastics

Practically, they must fight

in the history of modern

remained the most practised

until the last breath in

Olympic Games. For political

one. Infrastructural

sports to keep their nation

reasons, they could not always

developments and financial

rising even in hard times.

represent Armenia as a nation.

support dried out for a while,

Sports also offer the only

Most of the medals enriched

but – as usual – Armenians

chance to break out from

the collection of the Soviet

did not give up the fight.

poverty for the impoverished

Union. The sporting life of

In 1992, as part of the

living on the periphery

the region was very vibrant

unified team they won 3 gold

of society. Unfortunately,

those days and influenced by

and 1 silver medals, while

infrastructure and training

government-supported Soviet

in 1996, Armen Nazaryan won

methods have not changed

sports programs. As part of the

the first Olympic gold medal

since the Soviet era; yet

Soviet Union, the fragmented

in wrestling for independent

children and coaches remain

Armenian nation could only

Armenia.


GEORGIA

Gyumri

Vanadzor

ARMENIA AZERBAIJAN Etchmiadzin Metsamor Armavir

Lake Sevan

Yerevan Garni Ararat

TURKEY

NAKHCHIVAN

Sports have always been

changes are relatively slow

might completely change their

a highly politicised form

in the country, so children

life and give vision to the

of national expression.

usually have to struggle and

young generation.

Recent governments have

endure difficult circumstances

realized the importance of

to gain the recognition

sports movements and tried

of society. The mix of

to invest in rebuilding

uncertainty and persistence

sports facilities. High cash

of the Armenian nation has

rewards are also offered to

an amplifying effect on

COVER PICTURE

international champions by the

individual performance.

A boy is warming up his leg muscles

National Olympic Committee

In Armenia, sports became

after his round on a regional

as an extra motivational

a symbol of national pride.

weightlifting championship.

factor. On the other hand,

An international success

GYUMRI, ARMENIA


Gagik Xacikyan, multiple youth champion of athletics, is waiting for his daily training in one of the oldest gyms named after the two times Olympic Champion, Albert Azaryan.

YEREVAN, ARMENIA


Warming-up in the former school of the Olympic Champion, Artur Aleksanyan. Gyumri is a city with great sports traditions. Locals say that champions from Gyumri are successful and strong because of fresh air coming from 2000m highland.

GYUMRI, ARMENIA


A bunch of kids arrive for training in an old Lada. Their trainer, Gagik Xegiazaryan, collected them at different points of the village and drove them to the sports complex.

METSAMOR, ARMENIA


Children usually start training at an early age and are very enthusiastic while listening to their coach. The village Ararat is quite famous of its box club.

ARARAT, ARMENIA


Coaches usually work in small groups in order to pay closer attention to the youngsters. They usually spend all day in the gym. Ashot Gasparyan, senior coach at Albert Azaryan Gymnastic School is showing them how to do an exercise correctly.

YEREVAN, ARMENIA


Weightlifting is one of the most popular sports in Armenia with deep traditions. In the absence of a heating system, they insulated the gym’s wall with a piece of foil. Cold weather would not deter kids from daily training.

VANADZOR, ARMENIA


Weightlifters rolling a piece of truck tire at Spartak Sport School, one of the oldest facilities in the country.

YEREVAN, ARMENIA


Locals attend every regional championship to see unforgettable moments and cheer for their friends and family members. The most rewarding moment is when kids win medals in front of their beloved ones.

GYUMRI, ARMENIA


Next to the Nuclear Power Plant of the country, Metsamor Sport Complex was supposed to be built as the center of sport in 1980. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government changed plans, and built another Olympic complex in Tsaghkadzor. The complex has not been renovated since. However, trainings never stopped.

METSAMOR, ARMENIA


Artak Eremean has been a wrestling coach for 16 years in one of the youth schools of Armavir. His wrestler son was named after his good friend, Aristak Xazaryan, the founder of the school who passed away recently. Artak carries on the traditions and keeps fighting for the success of local children.

ARMAVIR, ARMENIA


Thousands of Armenian pumped these irons, including Artur Aleksanyan, who grew up and trained here before winning gold medal in wrestling at the Rio Olympics.

GYUMRI, ARMENIA


Preparing for box training on the corridor of Ararat Box Club.

ARARAT, ARMENIA


The Albert Azaryan Gymnastic School received new equipments every year during the Soviet era. Special attention was paid to the development of gymnastics. Today, they still use their old, worn out equipments. Athletes keep training, without ever complaining about the circumstances.

YEREVAN, ARMENIA


A coach checks the weight of his students the day before of the championship.

GYUMRI, ARMENIA


In rural areas trainings are the only community programs after school.

METSAMOR, ARMENIA


In Noragavit Fencing School most students do not have their own gear. They come for practice and take whatever is available. A girl is waiting for her turn due to lack of ĂŠpĂŠes.

NORAGAVIT, ARMENIA


Students

also use uniforms that were

donated from abroad and swap them after every match so everyone can wear them. Fencing is kind of popular amongst girls.

NORAGAVIT, ARMENIA


Armenia Sports Union, formerly known as Spartak, is one of the first sports associations in Yerevan mainly involved in individual Olympic sports. It has an outdoor pitch filled with students everyday.

YEREVAN, ARMENIA


Competitions are crucial for cadets. It is their opportunity to be noticed by coaches of the National Team. They take it very seriously and fight for their last breath.

GYUMRI, ARMENIA


The jury and sportmates are watching a young athlete during his pommel horse exercise.

YEREVAN, ARMENIA


The training methods are sometimes very painful. Children wait patiently for their trainer to stretch their legs out in Vanadzor.

VANADZOR, ARMENIA


The relationship between coach and athletes are very strict and similar to a father-son relationship. They meet each other every day, and the coach usually accompany children throughout their careers. To teach a very talented athlete and win medals with him/her gives the opportunity to step up to the next level of hierarchy.

GYUMRI, ARMENIA


An abandoned trainer’s office in Etchmiadzin Youth Sports School is a good example of how urgent development needs to be done in order to support potential Armenian athletes in their future careers.

ETCHMIADZIN, ARMENIA


A poster introduces the fragments of sports memories in Armavir. For Armenian families the greatest pride can be a medal that a child brings home.

ARMAVIR, ARMENIA


The heritage of Soviet times still permeates the air at the sport school named after Norayr Mushegyan who was the first Armenian freestyle wrestler winning the World Championship in 1958. A painting of a military general has been hanging on the wall for ages, watching the struggle of the next generation.

YEREVAN, ARMENIA


A boxer after losing a match at the annually held National Box Championship in Dynamo Sport Club.

YEREVAN, ARMENIA


Almost in every town you can find the Olympic sign that proudly proclaims the success of Armenian sport culture.

VANADZOR, ARMENIA


MORE PICTURES


info@zoltaiandras.com zoltaiandras.com +3630.5392316

Profile for andras.zoltai

DAVAJ, DAVAJ!  

SPORTING SPIRIT IN ARMENIA photography and text by András Zoltai 2018

DAVAJ, DAVAJ!  

SPORTING SPIRIT IN ARMENIA photography and text by András Zoltai 2018

Advertisement