Greater Boston ‘Nejdeh’ Chapter Wins 2016 AYF Olympics

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The Greater Boston “Nejdeh” chapter won the 83rd Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Olympic games.  They followed the tried and true formula of having lots of participation and focusing on swimming and track and field.

The Greater Boston “Nejdeh” chapter (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

It is the first win for the chapter since it was created, when the storied Boston “Siamanto” and Watertown “Gaidzag” chapters were merged.  The last time either the “Siamantos” or “Gaidzags” won was in 1985, when the “Siamantos” capped off a streak of five wins.  The Greater Boston Nejdeh chapter was coached by the cool, calm, and very collected Ara Krafian and included the contribution of his talented daughters in the point tally.

Philadelphia came in second and the host New Jersey “Arsen” team came in third, setting a new chapter record for the number of points scored.

Winners of Men’s Golf with Gebeshian (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

It was a glorious day for track and field this year, and we have to thank God for that.  On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings, forecasts predicted Hurricane Hermine to move up the East Coast, and cause a very rainy Sunday.  There was some real concern about having a rain soaked track and field or—in the worst case—to cancel it altogether, like in the 1988 Olympics in Philadelphia.  Thankfully, the storm took a course over the Atlantic, leaving us with pure blue skies, temperatures in the high 70’s and low 80’s, and refreshing breeze.  It was a glorious day indeed.

(L to R) Ken Topalian, Houry Gebeshian, and Joe Almasian—Three Armenian-American Olympians (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

The most significant record of the weekend was that of Michelle Hagopian in her last Olympic games.  She won three golds and became a high scorer in two regards.  By winning golf, baseball throw, and discus, she became a high scorer at these games.  Hagopian shared that honor with Anoush Krafian of Boston, who earned three golds on the track, and what we believe was Racine’s first ever high scorer, Azniv Khaligian who wowed everyone in the pool on Friday evening in her first Olympics.   By winning three firsts, Hagopian also became the all-time women’s high scorer, which is quite a feat.  Lynne Tutunjian had earned that distinction last year in the 82nd Olympics in Providence, R.I.

Men’s track action (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

A real highlight of the games was the guest of honor and main speaker at the opening ceremonies.  Houry Gebeshian, an Armenian-American gymnast, who represented the Republic of Armenia in the recent Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, honored us with her presence.  Gebeshian was absolutely wonderful.  She was gracious and engaging.  She took pictures with anyone and everyone.  You could see what an inspiration she was to the AYF Junior and Senior girls.  She even did a handstand with Kenar Charchafian from the Worcester “Aram” chapter.

Kenar Charchafian and Houry Gebeshian (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

Gebeshian’s speech was most inspirational.  It was about the power of self-determination and hard work.  Houry coached herself and set a rigorous routine of 16-20 hours, which is half of what paid or sponsored athletes do as she self-funded her own efforts to become an Olympian.  Houry is a physician assistant in a maternity ward in Cleveland.   What a story, what an inspiration, what a lovely lady, and what a pleasure having her at the opening ceremonies and presenting medals.

Greater Boston claims the Olympic trophy (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

Later that evening, everyone came to the Olympic Ball and danced the night away to the great music of the All-Star Band featuring Onnik Dinkjian, John Berberian, Hachig Kazarian, Mal Barsamian, Ara Dinkjian, and Bruce Gigarjian.

Mal Barsamian and Hachig Kazarian (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

It was a perfect AYF day!

The Philly chapter dance (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

The New Jersey chapter dance (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

The Women’s High Scorers (L to R) Khaligian, Krafian, and Hagopian (Photo: Mark Gavoor)


Note:  More details of the Olympic Games and results will be presented in the Armenian Weekly’s AYF Olympic special issue coming soon!

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Greater Boston ‘Nejdeh’ Chapter Wins 2016 AYF Olympics