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Armenia’s Olympic kits: The road from fairs and donations to contracts


Photo: Photolure

Photo: Yavryan's archive

Photo: ria.ru

Photo: Yavryan's archive

Photo: Armen Nazaryan's archive

Photo: Yavryan's archive

Photo: Arsen Melikyan's archive

Photo: Yavryan's archive

Photo: Yavryan's archive


For many years, Armenian athletes performed in the Olympics wearing the USSR kits, but independence and foundation of the national Olympic committee brought along the necessity to acquire a national kit with distinctive colors and design.


Mediamax Sport continues the series of articles on national kits of Armenia. This time we will cover the Olympic kits from 1992 to 2004, when Armenia was slowly gaining experience and understanding of the kit business.


The same kits for all CIS members

Armenia took part in the Olympic Games as an independent country for the first time in 1992. During the games in Barcelona, Armenian athletes performed in the same kits as representatives of other CIS states, but the first President of the National Olympic Committee Ruben Hakobyan carried the Armenian flag at the parade and the Armenian anthem played when the athletes were being awarded.

Photo: ria.ru


“The CIS team wore the kit ordered by Russia. No one discussed it with national teams. The kit was by Adidas, we received it when we arrived in Barcelona.

The outfits for the parade, though, were ordered from some Yugoslavian company. I have to say the Russians made a poor choice there, as the colors didn’t go well together – light brown trousers and multicolor shirts, imagine that!” recalls Ruben Hakobyan.

Despite the unfortunate clothing, four out of five Armenia representatives won medals in Barcelona. Weightlifter Israel Militosyan, Greco-Roman wrestler Mnatsakan Iskandaryan and shooter Hrachya Petikyan won gold medals, and another Greco-Roman wrestler Alfred Ter-Mkrtchyan took the silver.

Armenian Diaspora helps with an appropriate look for Lillehammer

Photo: Yavryan's archive


Armenia was competing in the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer two years later. Former secretary general of Armenian Olympic committee Harutyun Yavryan has revealed that Armenia had no recognition then and sportswear producers had no inclination to sign contracts with the country. Thankfully, the Armenian Diaspora came to the rescue.

Photo: Yavryan's archive


During the parade, the Armenian delegation wore outfits provided by a Romanian-Armenian, member of the International association for development of sport in Armenia (France) Hakob Kirmizian. Another Diaspora representative, Paul Vartanian covered the expenses of Puma kits.

The 1996 kits straight from the fair and the similar outfits

The Atlanta Olympics are still remembered in Armenia thanks to Armen Nazaryan’s victory. He has commented on the kit:

Photo: Yavryan's archive


“No one thought about the clothes at that time. We cared about properly representing our country first. We received the outfits for the parade before we left Armenia. I remember that I had lost quite a lot of weight so my clothes were too big for me. The kits were from ASICS.”

The famous wrestler took part in the closing ceremony and was trusted with the honor of carrying the Armenian flag. He recalls that fulfilling his mission in the Olympics is a feeling he can never forget.

Photo: Armen Nazaryan's archive


Tasteless kits, more assistance from Diaspora, and the first contract

Two years on, and Paul Vartanian again helped Armenia with kits, that time for the Nagano Olympic. Armenian athletes wore kits from Kappa, which they received upon arriving in Japan.

Photo: Arsen Melikyan's archive


Weightlifter Arsen Melikyan won bronze medal for Armenia in 2000 Olympics in Sidney.

“The kits we were wearing in 2000 were just hideous, absolutely tasteless. I don’t even want to mention the quality, since it was virtually nonexistent. Although we had everything we needed, I cannot call those kits unique or at least good,” he said.

Photo: Yavryan's archive


The same as during the Winter Olympics, Paul Vartanian wasted no time to help Armenia get kits for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Armenian athletes were wearing kits provided by a Canadian company.

The Summer Olympics in Athens were Armenia’s worst experience that far, as none of 18 athletes representing the country in 2004 won any medals.

Photo: Yavryan's archive


However, there was one bright spot in the otherwise widely unsuccessful campaign: for the first time, the Armenian National Olympic Committee signed a contract with a sportswear company.

“We wore Puma in Athens. It was the first official contract in the history of our Olympic committee. I cannot recall the details, but it was a new stage of our establishment. Naturally, we were delighted. It is always nice to see your athletes looking smart and appropriate,” said Harutyun Yavryan.

We will continue the story into the second part of this article.

Gohar Nalbandian, Hasmik Babayan

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