National Olympic Committee of Armenia celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Mediamax Sport will present a three-part series of articles which will describe how it is established, what difficulties it had and how it is currently operating.
Naturally, the first article, will tell about establishment of ARMNOC and Armenia's participation in the Olympic Games as an independent country. We talked to the founder of the National Olympic Committee of Armenia Ruben Hakobyan (he now works as an adviser to the President of ARMNOC) and Israel Militosyan- first Olympic champion of independent Armenia.
ARMNOC was founded in 1990
During a visit to Moscow in 1989, Armenian Sport Committee Chairman Ruben Hakobyan met Vitaly Smirnov, who was the new Olympic committee president. During a friendly conversation, Smirnov suggested that Olympic Committee should be created in Armenia.
“I returned to Armenia, talked to professor Rafik Meliksetyan, gathered knowledgeable people in sport sphere. We created an organization committee in 1990 that included Hrant Shahinyan, Harutyun Yavryan, Michael Ispiryan, other Olympic champions, and started to work.” Ruben Hakobyan started the conversation about first days of ARMNOC foundation like this.
Hakobyan first met International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch in Lausanne in 1991, after he had invited representatives from former Soviet republics.
Barcelona 1992. 5 Armenian sportsmen and 4 medals
1992 was approaching and Barcelona was to host the Olympic Games that year. The newly founded ARMNOC had Olympic Games as it’s primary issue.
The Soviet Union already did not exist as a country, but 12 countries (the Baltic countries participated separately) decided to act as the same team for the last time. Each state within CIS countries was represented by its flag, in honor of the winning athlete his/her country's national anthem was voiced during the medal ceremony.
So, independent Republic of Armenia presented 5 athletes in 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, 4 of whom returned home with medals, 3 of them became Olympic Champions- Israel Militosyan, Hrachya Petikyan and Mnatsakan Iskandaryan. Alfred Ter-Mkrtchyan won silver medal.
“Armenian anthem was voiced for the first time during Olympic Games. It was indeed very pleasant. It was sort of a record for us, that is steal unbeaten”, Hakobyan recalled.
The great starter was weightlifter Israel Militosyan from Gyumri, who won the first gold medal.
Photo: ARMNOC's archive
I’m happy that I marked the start of our team’s successful performance. It was not only a personal victory but an excellent result for the team. After the Olympiad, only 2 people met us in Yerevan. But in Gyumri, it was a real celebration. I didn’t expect such a festive mood and joy after the quake.
Indeed, our generation was very strong. Maybe it’s the reason why others didn’t manage to exceed the results. But we have good sportsmen now and I hope we will have a medal in Rio.
"Sports zones were destroyed after the earthquake, -cities with rich sports history, Gyumri and Vanadzor, no longer had places to train. Then Nagorno Karabakh conflict began, the Russian army began to use Yerevan’s sport zones as barracks databases. I think my biggest achievement was that I managed to keep the sport halls and didn’t let them be torn down," said Ruben Hakobyan.
ARMNOC became a full member of IOC
ARMNOC was approved as a member of National Olympic Committee Union, October 31, 1992. In September of 1993, IOC finally accepted ARMNOC as a full member.
Ruben Hakobyan resigned in 1993 and was replaced by Rafael Toroyan.
“ARMNOC is turning 25. I would highlight the four medals in 1992 as well as the gold medal that Armen Nazaryan won in 1996 as these years achievements,” said Hakobyan, who is the advisor to the president of ARMNOC.
Gohar Nalbandyan, Hasmik Babayan