25 July 2013, 16:06
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The Pan-Armenian Chronicles

Yerevan welcomed Armenian athletes from all over the world. The recent Pan-Armenian Games were distinguished by the great number of participants – almost two thousand athletes, representing 96 cities in more than 20 countries, competing in 10 sports – basketball, soccer and futsal, tennis, badminton, swimming, volleyball, and chess. In addition, for the first time not only amateurs, but also semi-professionals participated in the games.

The opening ceremony of the IV Pan-Armenian Games took place at Vazgen Sarkisyan Republican Stadium. The audience of thousands witnessed a colorful show with Armenian stars performing. 80 million drams (approximately $240 000) was spent on organizing the ceremony.
A bear cub that replaced the lion – a mascot at three of the prior games - greeted the IV Pan-Armenian Games’ participants. The Sydney basketball team (one of the strongest) brought in their own mascot-the kangaroo, perhaps to keep the little bear a company.
Basketball is a major sport at the Pan-Armenian Games. 21 male and 11 female teams competed for the gold medal in this sport this year. According to Asadur Asadurian, the coach of the Sidney basketball team, IV Pan-Armenian Games demonstrated how much the players had improved their skills.
As strange as it may sound, most of the chess players at the Pan-Armenian games are at the intermediate level (this is however, quite a good opportunity to gain experience for many). Parliamentarian Hamlet Movsesyan of Georgia and Austrian scientist Salmas Vahe Antonyan were among the participants this year.
As in the previous Pan-Armenian events, athletes from Yerevan led everyone in tennis. Armen Melkumyan, a head referee, remarked: “In many respects this tournament raises the general performance level of Armenian tennis players. They gain enormous experience. Besides, these games make tennis a sport of the masses and more popular.”
The Pan-Armenian Games is not only a major sports event; it is also a kind of international get-together for young Armenians everywhere. This is perhaps the reason why certain teams, devoid of training, were assembled at the last moment. Arbi Zoghrabyan, the coach of the Tehran tennis team, appeared worried about this aspect of PAG: “It is certainly very exciting that we can meet, hang out together, but we should not forget about sports. I hope that in the future the professionalism of PAG will progress.” By the way, one of the larger delegations was that from Iran, which amounted to 185 people. Yerevan, however, was indeed the leader in the number of participants – 245 athletes. According to PAG calculations, Yerevan also collected the greatest number of prizes – 36 gold, 22 silver, and 19 bronze medals.
PAG participants spent their free time in different ways. Most of those who have been to previous games and were familiar with Armenia visited cafes and bars, socializing with friends, both old and new. In contrast, most of those athletes who were visiting their historical motherland for the first time went sight-seeing.
Incidentally, one of the major events at this time that took place outside the PAG was a Euro-2008 football qualification round match between Armenia and Portugal. PAG participants came to the stadium to support our team, adding to the number of fans at the event. The Armenian team members did not let us down either: the match ended with a 1:1 score.
The event ended grandly, with the closing ceremony of the IV Pan-Armenian Games at Yerevan’s Freedom Square. Yes, the Games ended; but without a doubt our fellow countrymen throughout the world are already busy preparing for the next all-Armenian sporting event that is to take place in four years.

Yerevan Magazine, Summer, N1, 2008

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