Ukraine champion Ayvazian’s unfulfilled wish

Feature: Ukraine champion Ayvazian’s unfulfilled wish

2008-08-15
By sportswriter Bai Xu

BEIJING, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) — After he won the Olympic gold medal,
Ukrainian shooter Artur Ayvazian said he wanted to attribute it to his
coach.
"He helped me a lot," said the 35-year-old who had just been crowned in
men’s 50-meter rifle prone event at the Beijing Olympics.
But his coach, Vadim Klemenko, could never see the medal.
In fact, he had been dead for six years.
Born in Armenian capital Yerevan, Ayvazian received training in track
and field when he was ten years old, while his younger brother practiced
shooting.
Once his brother asked him to try with the rifle, he did. However, the
fifth-grader later found it tiring to juggle classes, track and field, and
shooting at the same time.
"I thought of giving up shooting, but my local coach believed I have the
talent in the sport and dissuaded me," said Ayvazian, then 12 years old.
The local coach was later proved right.
In 1990, Ayvazian enter a sports school in Lviv, a cultural center in
Ukraine.
He graduated in 1995, when Ukraine claimed independence. The shooter
thus chose to stay there.
Ayvazian met Klemenko in 1997, after the coach had paid attention to him
for two years.
"He is a good and professional coach, one that is rarely seen," the
champion recalled.
They were together all the time: when Ayvazian was running for physical
exercise, Klemenko held a stopwatch to record the time; when the shooter
went for competitions, Klemenko shared a room and dined together with him.
That was not all.
"He also gave me mental support," the athlete said.
The old man, born in 1941, was a retired shooter. In their spare time,
he told Ayvazian his past experiences.
"To me, he is not only a coach, but a good friend, or like father, who
could enter my heart," Ayvazian said.
Gold medalist in 50-meter rifle three positions at the World Cup in
Milan earlier this year, the shooter brought a photo snapped at that time
with him, putting it beside his pillow.
The day before the competition, he said he had a foreboding as what
would happen on Friday, which he believed was destined.
On Friday morning, the wind in qualification hall troubled some ace
shooters, like American Matthew Emmons.
"I had to fight harder than ever. The wind just swirled around. It was
definitely challenging," said the 27-year-old who later won a silver.
But Ayvazian found that the competition progressed as he imagined, even
the wind.
Still single, the shooter had his parents and brother living in Armenia.
He said he would have a two-month rest before making preparations for
the Bangkok World Cup. But the shooter hadn’t decided how long he would
continue shooting, as it was just part of his interest. Apart from it, he
likes diving and hunting in the nature.
"Becoming a public figure is likely to deprive a person of his freedom.
I am now afraid. I just don’t like it," he said.
"Shooting is something that requires particularity. It is easy to win,
and equally easy to lose — when you lose your feeling."
Whatever Ayvazian’s choice would be, seeing this hard-won Olympic gold
of his apprentice, the late old man would be contented in Heaven.

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