Friday, November 27, 2009

Armenia’s Future Lies in its Female Athletes

For all the hustle and bustle that “Football Diplomacy” has struck up since last year (see here and here), I think the true champions in diplomacy and international relations are Armenia’s female athletes competing in basketball and weightlifting.

A few local residents confessed to me that Armenians aren’t good at sports where they have to play as a team — it’s all that ego and overall male chauvinism. Hence, the twice-defeat by our male football players (soccer in North America) against Turkey in last year’s notable home game and this year’s, if one could say, even more notable away game (played in the Turkish city of Bursa — Armenia lost both times with the same score, 0-2). Both games were World Cup qualifiers.

But take sporting events like chess and weightlifting. Now these are some events Armenian athletes can actually excel in. But basketball? That’s a team sport, isn’t it? Maybe the reason basketball stands out from the rest of the team sports as being a sport Armenia seems to be doing well in is because, in Yerevan’s women’s basketball team HATIS at least, the majority of players are not Armenian by descent. I hate to say it, but the top players in the team (Maurita Reid, Ganna Zarytska, Bojana Vulic) have been recruited from elsewhere (and thank god for that!).

The latest victory is HATIS’ “major upset” against Turkey’s BESIKTAS. They played in Istanbul the day before yesterday (on November 25, the UN-designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: interesting coincidence) and won the game by a landslide (87-64). This is the team’s second victory in the 2009 EuroCup Women tournament: on November 19, they beat Russia’s CHEVAKATA (103-99). Russia and Turkey: two very strong teams. Good for you, HATIS!

For more info on the team and a schedule of their upcoming games, visit the team’s page on the FIBA Europe website here.

The other recent winning victory for female athletes was Nazik Avdalyan winning a gold medal in weightlifting. Avdalyan competed in the 69kg group in the 2009 World Weightlifting Championships taking place in Goyang, South Korea.

Apparently, in weightlifting there are two types of lifts (both with really odd-sounding names!) and to win the ultimate gold medal, you must win in both categories. First, Avdalyan won a “small” gold medal by winning the Snatch (yes, that’s the name of the first type of lift) with 119 kg. The next lift, called the Clean and Jerk, found Avdalyan competing once again with Russia’s Oxana Slivenko. Slivenko finished at 146 kg; in order for Avdalyan to win the championship, she had to lift as much as her opponent. The 23-year-old weightlifter did better than that: she beat Slivenko by 1 kg, finishing at 147 kg.

This means that Nazik Avdalyan gained the World Champion title by lifting a total of 266 kg. Can you believe it? That’s amazing! For further details, you can visit the 2009 Goyang World Weightlifting Championships’ official website here.

I love that we have such amazing female role models, not only representing Armenia (which Armenia’s high-ranking officials are only too happy to declare only after they bring back a gold medal), but also showing Armenian audiences (both male and female) the power that women have — and for men, who so dominate the sports arena, both in talking about it and participating in it, this is something they can only praise and give it it’s due respect.

My friend Chris (who’s male, by the way) was right: The future is female.

1 comment:

  1. And here's an article from the New York Times about one man in the U.S. who advocates for girls' sports: