DAVAJ, DAVAJ!
SPORTING SPIRIT IN ARMENIA

photography & text by András Zoltai / 2018
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Gyumri, Armenia – A boy is warming up his leg muscles after his round on a regional weightlifting championship.​​​​​​​
Sports successes can represent the power of a nation’s identity, especially for a poor and isolated country like Armenia, possessing deep roots in sports since ancient times. In fact, the tragic history of Armenia (genocide, wars, earthquake) strengthened the consciousness of collective struggle in Armenians' mind. Practically, they must fight until the last breath in sports to keep their nation rising even in hard times. Sports also offer the only chance to break out from poverty for the impoverished living on the periphery of society. Unfortunately, infrastructure and training methods have not changed since the Soviet era; yet children and coaches remain highly optimistic and continue fighting for success. The winner takes it all – personal and material success, social respect, and most of all, glory for the nation of Armenia.
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Yerevan, Armenia – Gagik Xacikyan, multiple youth champion of athletics, is waiting for his daily training in one of the oldest gyms named after the two times Olympic Champion, Albert Azaryan.

Gyumri, Armenia – Warming-up in the former school of the Olympic Champion, Artur Aleksanyan.Gyumri is a city with great sports traditions. Locals say that champions from Gyumri are successful and strong because of fresh air coming from 2000m highland.

Yerevan, Armenia – Coaches usually work in small groups in order to pay closer attention to the youngsters. They usually spend all day in the gym. Ashot Gasparyan, senior coach at Albert Azaryan Gymnastic School is showing them how to do an exercise correctly.

Vanadzor, Armenia – Weightlifting is one of the most popular sports in Armenia with deep traditions. In the absence of a heating system, they insulated the gym's wall with a piece of foil. Cold weather would not deter kids from daily training.

Gyumri, Armenia – Locals attend every regional championship to see unforgettable moments and cheer for their friends and family members. The most rewarding moment is when kids win medals in front of their beloved ones.

Yerevan, Armenia – Weightlifters rolling a piece of truck tire at Spartak Sport School, one of the oldest facilities in the country.

Metsamor, Armenia – Next to the Nuclear Power Plant of the country, Metsamor Sport Complex was supposed to be built as the center of sport in 1980. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government changed plans, and built another Olympic complex in Tsaghkadzor. The complex has not been renovated since. However, trainings never stopped.

Armavir, Armenia – Artak Eremean has been a wrestling coach for 16 years in one of the youth schools of Armavir. His wrestler son was named after his good friend, Aristak Xazaryan, the founder of the school who passed away recently. Artak carries on the traditions and keeps fighting for the success of local children.

Gyumri, Armenia – Thousands of Armenian pumped these irons, including Artur Aleksanyan, who grew up and trained here before winning gold medal in wrestling at the Rio Olympics.

Yerevan, Armenia – Armenia Sports Union, formerly known as Spartak, is one of the first sports associations in Yerevan mainly involved in individual Olympic sports. It has an outdoor pitch filled with students everyday.

Vanadzor, Armenia – Almost in every town you can find the Olympic sign that proudly proclaims the success of Armenian sport culture.

You can find more information and pictures about the project in the following pdf: 
This project was supported by Hungarian Cultural Fund.
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