Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pan-Armenian Games Unite Through Sports

Narine Daneghyan /
Opening Ceremonies
By Narine Daneghyan

YEREVAN, Armenia – August 13. Evening.  I took my camera, my YJI press card and went to the Republican stadium to take part in a big holiday of sport, youth and unity, the opening ceremony of Pan-Armenian Games.
As most of you live far from Armenia, maybe you don’t know what I am talking about, but that was really fantastic, friends.
First let me introduce what these games are and then I will speak about my impressions.
The Pan-Armenian Games are a multi-sport event, held between competitors from the Armenian diaspora and Armenia.
They consist of various competitions in individual and team sports among Armenian athletes.
The Games take place in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.

Some History
Even in ancient times, Armenians were fond of sports. In ancient Armenia, August was called Navasard, and in that month, sports competitions called Navasardian Games were organized.
Armenians also took part in ancient Olympic Games. The first Armenian who participated in The Games in Olympus, Greece was King Trdat I, who competed in quadric – races on horse-pulled carts.
The first Armenians who won in the Games and became Olympic champions in Olympus were future Armenian kings – wrestler Trdat (281BC) and fist-fighter, or boxer, Varazdat (385BC).
The first Armenians who participated in the modern Olympic Games were athletes Vahram Papazyan and Mkrtich Mkeryan, who were the only representatives of the Turkish team for the 5th Olympic Games in 1912 in Stockholm.
Three years later, the rulers of Ottoman Turkey organized the Armenian Genocide in the territories of Western Armenia and Southern Caucasus that took lives of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923.
Armenians who managed to survive the Genocide spread all over the world, which is why the Armenian Diaspora is so huge.
Armenians number more than 7 million people and now live in more than 100 countries of the world. Every four years they gather in their motherland to compete in different sports and make new friends.  
The first Pan-Armenian Games took place in 1999 and included representatives of 62 cities and 23 countries. The second Pan-Armenian Games took place in 2001, followed by the third one in 2003.
Then it was decided to transform the schedule for the Games to once every four years instead of once every two years, and the fourth Pan-Armenian Games were held in 2007.

Narine Daneghyan /
People gather around the torch at the opening ceremony

Pan-Armenian Games 2011  
This year, 3,000 athletes from nearly 125 cities of the world competed in 10 sports: football, basketball, chess, mini football, volleyball, swimming, athletics, badminton, tennis and table tennis.
The Games finished August 21.
Narine Daneghyan /
Buenos Aires - Axalqalaqi basketball game
During the opening ceremony, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, President Bako Sahakian of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, Ishkhan Zakarian, who is the chairman of Pan-Armenian games worldwide and the Chamber of Control and other officials were present in Republican stadium of Yerevan.
The ceremony started with the parade of sportsmen, headed by the delegation of Artsakh, followed by the march of all of the 125 representative delegations.
The flame, which was first set alight in Ani in Western Armenia, travelling through to St. Tade church in Iran, to Gandzasar, Garni, Syunik and Khor Virap in Armenia, was taken to the stadium by IBO boxing champion Vic Darchinyan and world sambo wrestling champion Ashot Danielyan. World and European weightlifter champion Tigran Martirosyan lit the flame.
The Catholicos of All Armenian His Holiness Karekin II and the president of the International Committee of Pan-Armenian Games, Ishkhan Zakaryan, gave speeches welcoming the participants.
“It’s an excellent holiday in Armenia, a holiday of youth and unity,” said Chairman Ishkhan Zakaryan of the World Committee of the Pan-Armenian Games. “And the slogan of the games, "Unity through Sport" already symbolizes the meaning of this idea. So let this unity accompany us next to the sports fair fight during the games.”
Finally, Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan declared the Games open and the flag of the Pan Armenian Games was raised up.
Narine Daneghyan /
Men's basketball game
between Burj Hamud and Glendale
The colorful ceremony included speeches, the lighting of the Olympic torch, massive fireworks, dances and entertainment from famous Armenian artists.
More than 10,000 tourists had also come to Yerevan to attend the Games.
People who were gathered in the stadium were happy and the day was really memorable.
For most athletes, it was their first trip to Armenia.
Alexis Koruk, who lives in Buenos Aires, represented his city with his basketball team. He was impressed by the opening ceremony and compared it with opening of the Olympic Games.  
Cousins Nazo Guedikian and Hrag Merdinian represented Burj Hamud, Lebanon. They play basketball and stated that they would like to live in Armenia in the future.
Sevak Sarikanian, from Paris, was excited to be in Yerevan, and found everything well-organized. Sarikanian said he’s thankful to all the organizers of the Games.
Narine Daneghyan /
Niklinovka celebrates its
mini-football victory over Tehran 
For him victory is important, Sarikanian said, but the most important thing for every participant of the Games is to be in his homeland His friends Alex Kichek and Sevak Madayan added that they are thankful to those who came to watch their footzal, or mini-football, games.
The closing of the Pan-Armenian Games, including the presentation of the medals to the winners, was August 21 in Liberty Square in Yerevan.
But there couldn’t be and weren’t any losers in these Games, because everyone is a winner here.
They are young and they’re united by their love for sports and for their homeland.

Video shows the opening ceremonies.

No comments: