2012 Sports: Chess, Soccer, Olympics Dominate Year’s Sporting News

By Suren Musayelyan

25.12.12 | 14:16

The ending year of 2012 has been marked in sports by the signal
success of Armenian chess aces at the World Olympiad in Turkey as
well as ups and downs of the nation’s Olympic athletes and soccer
players in their respective competitions.

In September FIDE’s current No. 2 player Levon Aronian led his
teammates to a spirited victory at the Istanbul biannual forum – the
third for Armenia since 2006. The team, also including GMs Vladimir
Akopian, Sergei Movsesian, Tigran Petrosian and Gabriel Sargissian,
and their coach Arshak Petrosyan were honored by President Serzh
Sargsyan upon their return home.

Team Armenia won fewer medals at the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games
than at the similar competitions in Beijing four years before, but
at least one Armenian athlete managed to upgrade the medal color to
silver. Still, many fans had hoped to see in London the first Armenian
Olympic champion since 1996.

Armenian athletes won six bronzes at the 2008 Games, while their
haul this year included one silver and two bronzes (in Olympic count
a single silver medal overweighs all bronzes just as a gold medal
beats all others).

The Armenian athletes celebrating in London in August were Greco-Roman
wrestler Arsen Julfalakian (74 kg), who won a silver medal, Greco-Roman
wrestler Artur Aleksanyan (96) and weightlifter Hripsime Khurshudyan
(+75 kg), both of whom won bronze medals.

Thus, in London Armenia finished 60th in the overall medal standings,
while in Beijing the team was only 80th.

Two athletes represented Armenia at the following 2012 Paralympics
in the British capital.

The national soccer team of Armenia in 2012 only slightly reminded fans
of its former self that won it a large following in the 2010-2011
European championships qualifying campaign. As a result, Vardan
Minasyan’s charges, despite occasionally spirited performance, lost
to main rivals in World Cup qualifying Group B, Bulgaria and Italy,
while beating bottom-of-the-barrel side Malta in the opening qualifier
in September.

Hopes for the future of the campaign were lifted by a spectacular 4-2
win over Lithuania in a friendly in November. Also, skipper Sargis
Hovsepyan made his 132nd and last appearance for the team in that
match ending his long career in soccer at a mature athletic age of 40.

Simultaneously, Armenia and Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Henrikh
Mkhitaryan reaffirmed his world class status by his performances for
the national team and his Ukrainian side during 2012.

During the ending year athletes representing Armenia or ethnic
Armenians also registered successes in other sports such as boxing,
weightlifting, wrestling, judo, etc.

In March, Armenian Greco-Roman wrestler Artur Alexanyan won a
gold medal in the 96-kg division at the Senior Wrestling European
Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. Two other Greco-Roman wrestlers
representing Armenia, Yuri Patrikeyev and Arsen Julfalakyan, won
bronze medals in the 120-kg and 74-kg weight categories, respectively.

Wrestlers representing Armenia also won silver and bronze medals for
Armenia at recent University Championships.

Armenians were also successful in international competitions in sambo
and judo.

Armenian professional boxers including Arthur Abraham, Vic Darchinyan,
Vanes Martirosyan and others were also mostly unbeaten in the ring.

The largest sporting event hosted by Armenia in 2012 was the AIBA
Youth World Boxing Championships, on November 28-December 7, bringing
to Yerevan more than 600 participants from 68 countries, including
Azerbaijan. Team Armenia won one gold medal at the championships
praised for the level of their organization.

Finally, in basketball, Armenian American coach Carl Bardakian was
placed in charge of the men’s national team, which is going to be in
training during the 2013 off-season in preparation for the 2014 FIBA
Europe Division C Men’s Basketball Championship.

From: A. Papazian