The Armenian athletes won 7 medals in three World Championships in September. The year was also saturated in terms of qualification for the Olympic Games.
Mediamax Sport talked to Secretary General of the Armenian National Olympic Committee Hrachya Rostomyan about the achievements of 2019, the work that has been done, fight against doping and good performance in the coming 2020 Olympic Games.
-Mister Rostomyan, let’s start with weightlifting. You departed for Pattaya and were present at IWF’s congress. What new decisions were made that will impact Armenia?
-This year the international federation attached special importance to fight against doping. We have the sad experience of the previous years, and there was a danger of being excluded from the Olympic family.
IWF took some very serious steps, without taking into consideration countries’ sizes and powers, and did everything possible to fight against doping. Athletes were disqualified in all previous World Championships, but the situation has changed now.
-The Armenian Weightlifting Federation also had a positive result in 2017. What conclusions were drawn and what has been done since then?
-We were punished again, but the most important thing is the fact that as compared to other countries, we understood that there is no future for doping in sport, and we started the “cleaning” works. We have had only one positive case over the past 5 years. It relates to Sona Poghosyan, but we have appealed the decision, so it is not final yet.
The Armenian Weightlifting Federation, Armenian National Olympic Committee and the Anti-Doping Agency succeeded in eliminating this negative phenomenon in joint efforts. The athletes and coaches understood gradually that it is possible to register great results without doping, that you need to train well. Good training, food, healthcare are the main components of success in sport.
-The World Weightlifting Championship was a success for Armenia: 4 medals, of which 2 - gold. What is your evaluation?
-This was a great World Championship, and I would like to congratulate our medalists. I would especially like to single out the bronze medalist Ruben Aleksanyan. I am very happy for him, as he fought for so many years and won a medal in World Championship regardless of multiple injuries of leg, shoulder, back.
-Let’s now talk about wrestling. We have only 2 medals and 2 wrestlers to participate in the Olympics. How satisfactory is this result?
-The Greco-Roman athletes had satisfactory performances. We anticipated only 1 athlete to qualify for the Olympics given certain circumstances. It wouldn’t be honest to say that they failed the World Championship, as we didn’t expect more this time. Yes, we expected more in case of Greco-Roman wrestling.
We were happy to see Artur Aleksanyan in competition again, 4 tough fights against strong competitors. We are convinced that the athletes will be able to qualify for the Olympics in the upcoming competitions. We expect at least one athlete in Greco-Roman and 2 in freestyle wrestling to participate.
-Mr. Rostomyan, Armenia still doesn’t have an Olympic quota in judo, and there is only one to take. What do you think about it?
-I think Ferdinand Karapetyan is close to getting a quota, so he can solve that problem. He competed in the European Games this year, but I didn’t like the way referees managed his fight. We can’t put the blame on them, of course, because Ferdinand won the European championship where the same referees worked. I suppose he didn’t prepare for the tournament as well this year. He has to work harder for the Olympics.
-The gymnastics team has one quota, but the season is still open. How do you assess the team’s latest achievements?
-Head coach Hakob Serobyan keeps everything under control and maintains high quality in the training of the athletes.
Artur Davtyan is the only one who qualified for the Olympics so far, but Artur Tovmasyan also has a chance. Given the level of the team’s readiness, I am certain we’ll have 2-3 quotas and even win some medals in Tokyo.
-We have to touch on boxing. Mr. Rostomyan, the federation and the committee have been in a dispute for some times now. It definitely affects the boxers, who are left with little time to prepare for the Olympics. What is the solution?
-I hope everything will be settled in December. President of the Boxing Federation Artur Gevorgyan applied to the London arbitrage court and the investigation is ongoing. The AIBA general assembly in December will clarify a lot too.
The International Olympic Committee stripped AIBA from the international mandate, so the national committees make all decisions. After December 10 we’ll hold the open tournament, see who joins the squad and competes for quotas.
I think all boxers should participate in the tournament, except for champion of Europe, bronze medalist of World Championship Hovhannes Bachkov. But if he wants to participate, that is not a problem.
-You announced earlier that the committee declined the wild cards. Are you certain it will not affect Armenia in the sports where our athletes don’t qualify for a quota?
-We’ll as many representatives in the Olympic Games as many quotas we earn. If the given athlete can’t earn it in the championship or a qualification tournament, they will have to go the Olympics just to participate. We’ll take wild cards only for athletes whose tournaments are held in Baku – shooting and gymnastics.
-What can you say about Armenia’s potential in sport? Which athletes can we rely on in the future?
We have very good young athletes in various sports. There is no one stronger than Simon Martirosyan in the weightlifting world, Gor Minasyan has grown a lot – people won Olympic gold in 2016 with the same results he gets now. I expect tough competition between him and Lasha Talakhadze in the 2020 Olympics.
Let’s not forget Artur Aleksanyan, who gave the start to our success in sport and inspired so many other athletes. We have many talented young sportsmen: Hakob Mkrtchyan, Hovhannes Bachkov, Artur Hovhannisyan, Arman Darchinyan, Maksim Manukyan, Artur Shahinyan. They all won medals in large tournaments, and there are more like them. We just need to appreciate our athletes.
-What are the plans for next year? A very important period is ahead. Is the committee already working on it?
-We are working with the federations on preparations for the Olympics, but everything depends on the final amount of quotas. There will be training camps, the coaches will decide how and where to hold them. We have already created the managing staff, and I’m certain we will compete in the Olympics at a high level.
Gohar Nalbandyan and Hasmik Babyan has talked to Hrachya Rostomyan