Our young boys understand it’s possible to become a World champion – Gymnovosti

In 2011, Harutyun Merdinyan was the first gymnast to win a European Championships medal for independent Armenia – a bronze on pommel horse. This medal was followed by five more, including two golds. The last he won at this year’s European Championships – at 38 years old. Last week, Merdinyan also repeated his 2015 achievement by winning a bronze on PH at the World Championships. Armenia did not qualify a team to Euros but two more Armenian gymnasts, Artur Avetisyan and Vahagn Davtyan, made the rings final, and Artur Davtyan won gold on vault – the first gold at Worlds in the history of independent Armenia.

Merdinyan told Gymnovosti he is extremely happy to see Armenian gymnastics develop because when he was growing up, he could only look up to the great Armenian gymnasts of the Soviet times:

“It’s very hard to be the first. There were no [contemporary] athletes for me to see, to serve as an example. I looked up to Albert Azaryan and Hrant Shahinyan. But now our young boys, after seeing us, understand that it’s possible to win medals, it’s possible to become a World champion. If you work on yourself, you can become a World champion, even an Olympic champion. Our Artur [Davtyan] also made his mark at the Olympics, he took third place. Perhaps, he’ll be a champion next time.”

“It was very hard for me but it’s ok now, it’s getting better with time. There are plans to build new gyms. I am very grateful to our federation that they are working on it, that they built new gyms, bought new equipment, so that our young boys will work on new equipment and can bring success to Armenia.”

At the age of 38, Merdinyan is much older than most of his competition (the youngest competitor in the PH final Doi Ryosuke is 18 years younger than Merdinyan) but sees no reason to stop:

“For me age is just a number. I feel great. I’m proud that I can win many medals for Armenia.”

Merdinyan also works as a children’s gymnastics coach:

“I am a coach, I coach children. But, in general, being a gymnast is my work and my hobby. I gave my whole life to gymnastics and I am very happy that I can win many medals.”

Merdinyan dedicated this medal to his personal coach Sos Sarkisyan who had a birthday on November 6th, the day after the final. After he won gold at the last European Championships, he dedicated to his baby daughter Sara, :

“I gave myself a specific goal to fight for the top three spots and had every intention to win a medal. I really wanted to give it to my daughter Sara who will soon turn 8 months old. That was the only thing I’ve been thinking of throughout my performance. I am happy that I’ve achieved my goal. I’ve competed at these Championships for my baby and I’m grateful to God that he helped me.”

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