Satenik Ghazaryan Gains Support From Her Athletic Family


European Athletics
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Nov 27 2009

Photo: Satenik Ghazaryan, the Armenian national winner of the European
Athletics Women’s Leadership Awards, receives her certificate.

In the third in a series of profiles of the national winners of the
inaugural Women’s Leadership Awards, European Athletics speaks to
Armenia’s Satenik Ghazaryan.

As if Satenik Ghazaryan’s personal contributions to the sport as
an athlete, coach and event organiser were not enough, she has also
built an athletics-family that has worked alongside her and enriched
Armenian athletics.

Ghazaryan, who has been named Armenia’s national winner for the
European Athletics Women’s Leadership Award, started out as a
competitor and was many times national champion in the middle distance
events (800m – 5000m).

After finishing her competitive days, Ghazaryan, 54, began a second
career in coaching and has gone on to guide many successful Armenian
athletes and lead her country’s women’s national team at various
international competitions. In 2008, she was invited to serve as the
head coach of the Kuwaiti women’s team.

In her current position as Deputy Director of the Athletics Youth
Sport School in the capital Yerevan, one of Ghazaryan’s primary
responsibilities is to advise other coaches and help them to develop
their expertise.

Alongside her various coaching roles, Ghazarayan has become a top
organiser of athletics and sports events in Armenia. She has long been
a fixture at the country’s most important national competitions, either
as a referee or competition secretary or announcer, and she served
as chief secretary for both the first and second Pan-Armenia Games.

But one of Ghazarayan’s biggest projects has been the organisation
of her country’s annual Women’s Spartakiade, a national multisport
competition designed to bring more women into sport, which she founded
in 1998 and has continued to lead until the present.

For this work, the mother of four has drawn on her husband’s support.

His organisation is one of the event’s main partners and, she explains,
"He helps me a lot when we are looking for sponsors for competitions,"

"All my family are a great support for me and they are a source of
inspiration in my activities," she explains.

Ghazaryan’s two sons have both been athletes, one a triple jumper
while the other followed his mother’s footsteps to become Armenian
champion in the 800 and 1500 meters.

Her two daughters have also followed her example. Both work as
lecturers in athletics and physical education, and her older daughter
coaches at a sport school and has served alongside her mother as
chief secretary at a number of Armenian competitions.

In addition to her efforts in the day-to-day work of the sport,
Ghazaryan has taken on a number of leadership positions. She is
a vice-president of the Armenian Women’s Olympic Committee and
the president of the Women’s Committee of the Armenian Athletic
Federation. It was in this role that in 2001 she organised the
international seminar "Women in Athletics" in Yerevan.

In recognition of her many contributions to the sport, Ghazaryan was
awarded with a special medal by the IAAF in 1998.

As a woman working in sport, Ghazaryan says she has encountered
obstacles along the way, but she has remained resilient. She credits
a number of company directors and the president of the Armenian
Federation, Sargis Khachaturyan, who presented her award on behalf
of European Athletics, for investing in her and her cause.

But she realises there is more work to be done. "In our country it
is rather difficult for a woman to independently implement sports
activities. It is necessary for her to strengthen her position in
the society first, then she can go on," she says.

Overall, Ghazaryan is encouraged by the direction the sport is taking
in Armenia: "I am happy that athletics is developing and has become
significantly more popular among women. The percentage of female
coaches has increased compared to several years ago and in coming
years women will have a more stable and strong position in our sport."

"One of our biggest challenges is to find sponsors or financial
supporters for events and projects. It requires effort and skills to
explain the role and meaning of athletics in a woman’s life."

Ghazaryan believes increased government involvement is necessary
for further development: "In order to facilitate women’s activities,
first of all, we need assistance and more serious attention from our
government. We need financial, psychological and technical support,
as well as more mass media coverage."

For the future, Ghazaryan sees participation as the key to creating
future women’s leaders in sport: "One of the main issues in our sport
is getting girls involved, which is a very hard job in our country.

Nevertheless, year after year the quantity and quality of female
performances have significantly improved."

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