The unstoppable

Nora Koloyan-Keuhnelian , Tuesday 2 May 2023

Nora Koloyan-Keuhnelian witnessed Armenia’s achievements at the finals of the Artistic Gymnastics Apparatus World Cup and spoke to the gold medallist of the men’s winner on the vault

Artur Davtyan


“I never liked gymnastics. My parents decided I should play this type of sport as I was quite a hyper type of kid,” said the Armenian gold medallist Artur Davtyan the day he received his trophy. Davtyan, 30, started to train for the sport when he was only five. “Every time I went to exercise I would return home and cry.” But by the time Davtyan played professionally for a living, he became an “unstoppable” gymnast, the absolute World Cup winner for 2022, and counting.

Just back from Antalya, Turkey, Davtyan is also the title holder of the 10th European Championship that took place last month. Lest we forget, April is the month of survival for the Armenian nation. When asked whether he finds in his country a suitable atmosphere to practise and achieve, Davtyan replied: “Our nation is known for its strength. We definitely have a born-champion in each and every sport.”

Davtyan practices every day from 11am to 2pm except for Sundays. “I never follow diets. My body is different; I usually don’t gain weight. I eat everything including fat and dessert,” adding that he minimises his intake only a couple of days before any performance.

Four Armenian athletes made it to the finals of the fourth and final leg of the 2023 Artistic Gymnastics World Cup series held in Cairo last weekend. The national team collected several medals beside the gold, as a 100-strong Armenian presence, at the least, all cheered them every step of the way.

Gagik Khachikyan and Harutyun Merdinyan won silver and bronze medals respectively on the same apparatus, the Pommel Horse. Artur Avetisyian collected the bronze medal on the Still Rings.

Egypt’s finals was easy for Davtyan, as he described it. “I expected to win the trophy. The competition was not difficult as it was in the past two championships.” Ukraine’s Nazar Chepurnyi and the Czech Republic’s Ondrej Kalny were his competitors. He scored 15,166 points while Chepurnyi and Kalny scored 14,799 and 14,333 respectively.

Gymnastics is not just a sport but an intense creative activity. It includes certain physical actions such as acrobatics,balance and connection, which requires flexibility and strength to perform certain manoeuvres.  

In the stands we frequently saw the athletes. The noticeable and repetitive scene was Davtyan’s shining star. Many Egyptians know his name by heart and were keen to chat with him and capture photos. One Egyptian father holding a nine-month-old girl said he has two other daughters; six and eight years old, both of whom practise gymnastics. “The little one will follow her sisters’ path,” he declared.

Al-Gezira Sporting Club’s Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Executive Manager Amira Sharaf, who is also an international referee, was among those who was keen to cheer for our athletes among the community’s crowd, a crowd of all ages - in the stands. “Artur has many fans in our club as he visited us last year. He is an idol,” Sharaf said.

The competition is a ranking for the World Championship coming up in Belgium in the fall. Davtyan is hoping his team will get a rating in the championship to qualify for the Olympic Games taking place in Paris next summer.

“I understand that both Egypt and Armenia have warm relations. Egyptians like us; we felt that in our own skin. In fact, the huge presence of the community during the whole championship made us feel like home. We never experienced this in the diaspora; wherever we played it wasn’t like that, definitely. And this came true with the Armenian Ambassador Hratch Poladian and his wife taking the lead.” Davtyan described the scene as “unusual” which brought to the team more “enthusiasm” to achieve.

The Armenian community in Egypt did not spare any effort to cheer their fellow Egyptian athletes during their performances, especially Ali Zahran and Omar Mohamed who were very close to the community crowd. The rooting was reciprocal and full of enthusiasm.

A Facebook page that deals with parents of Egyptian gymnasts shared the following post: “Individual games, including gymnastics, require certain concentration during performances, and for that reason silence should prevail especially during the play. While watching the games in Cairo Stadium I noticed the Armenian community’s respect towards its players. There was complete silence during the Armenian athletes performances, although the crowd’s way of cheering was so noisy before and after the performance. We cannot scream and make loud and annoying noises during gymnastics in the same way as we do for team games.”

The national team’s head Coach Hagop Seropyan, too, expected a gold medal “but I never expected each athlete would win a medal. Thank God our achievement in this championship was super. We will take part with five athletes at the Belgium games,” Seropyan asserted, always looking forward to the gold. He praised the Ministry of Youth and Sports for its successful hosting of the event.


The proudest moment of the finals was when the crowd sang the national anthem accompanying the background music, while the champ was atop the podium, the tricolour flag waving on the screen and the world watching.



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