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Armenian Olympic Athletes Off To London


Armenia -- Armenian Olympic athletes pictured at Yerevan airport before leaving for London, 25Jul2012.

Armenia -- Armenian Olympic athletes pictured at Yerevan airport before leaving for London, 25Jul2012.

A group of Armenian athletes have left for London to take part in the 2012 Olympic Games that will officially start there on Friday.

A total of 25 athletes will represent Armenia at the 2012 games, competing in sports such as judo, boxing, weightlifting, wrestling, swimming, gymnastics, shooting, track and field athletics and taekwondo.

Boxer Andranik Hakobian, one of the Armenian Olympians departing from Yerevan’s Zvartnots Airport Wednesday night, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that he is in good form and aiming for an Olympic medal. “We are going [to London] with high expectations,” said Hakobian. “We should try to do our utmost to return home with a medal.”

“We expect a good result,” said Karen Aghamalian, the head coach of Armenia’s national boxing team. “He [Hakobian] has worked hard to approach [the Olympics] in good form. He is the sole representative [of Armenia] in boxing, but he’s got real quality.”

Judo fighters Armen Nazarian and Hovannes Davtian are also part of Armenia’s Olympic team in London.

“They both are quite experienced judokas with achievements made in the past,” David Khitarian, deputy chairman of the Armenian Judo Federation, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service at Zvartnots. “The Olympic games will be the heights that they have so far been unable to climb. We hope we can win medals at these games.”

Nazarian, 30, won a European title in 2005 and also became a bronze and silver medalist at European championships before and after that. And Davtian, 28, won a silver medal at the 2007 European championship and a bronze medal at the world championships two years later.

For the first time ever, Armenia will have a taekwondo fighter competing in the Olympics.

Gagik Tsarukian, the head of the Armenian National Olympic Committee, has promised a $700,000 bonus to athletes for each gold medal won in London. In addition, the government said it would pay an equivalent of about $72,000, $48,000 and $24,000 to gold, silver and bronze medalists, respectively.

Armenian athletes won six bronze medals at the 2008 Olympic games held in Beijing, China.
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