Krafian, Hamalian Win Pentathlons at AYF Olympics

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By Bob Tutunjan

The pentathlon events wound up being tightly contested affairs, with last year’s champions both settling for silver.

Pentathlon 800 Meter Run (L-R) Kenar Topouzian (DET) edges ahead of Nairi Krafian (BOST)

In the women’s competition, two-time champion Knar Topouzian from Detroit squared off against 2012 victor Nairi Krafian of Greater Boston. Knar had bested Nairi in 2013 scoring 2,327 points. Nairi was unable to attend the Games in Detroit last year due to college conflicts. This year Nairi came back to turn the tables and win with 2,212 points, only 59 more than Knar. Last year’s silver medalist Jessica Sarkisian (Philadelphia) won the bronze with 1,541 points, while rookie Victoria Rafaelian-Caruolo took 4th for Providence.

Eight athletes competed in the men’s event, where Providence’s Mark Hamalian came from behind in the final event to edge out three-time champion Vigen Sarkisov of Greater Boston. Mark earned 2,735 points while Vigen accumulated 2,699, his highest Olympic pentathlon total. Mark was competing in his second AYF Olympics, but first since 2012. At those Games in Boston, he medaled in the jumps and hurdles but has since focused on the decathlon at Stonehill College; he was Massachusetts high school champion in that event in 2014. Last year’s runner-up, Shant Topouzian from Detroit, battled for the bronze with his former teammate Ara Markarian, now of New York, with Ara claiming the medal. Following this group were the four Sarajian brothers fighting for family bragging rights, and Raffi beat out Ara for fifth place.

Pentathlon 200 Meter Dash (L-R) Ara Markarian (NY), Vigen Sarkisov (BOST), Raffi Sarajian (NJ), Mark Hamalian (PROV), Shant Topouzian (DET)

The women’s competition started with the shot put on Sunday morning. Knar threw 29’10” to take an early 84-point lead over Nairi, who was in fourth place at that time. But Nairi seized control by leaping 14’6” in the long jump and won that event by almost 2 feet to go in front by 57 points. Both women high jumped 4’6” to maintain the same point differential. The 200-meter dash was a photo finish with Nairi running 29.61 and extending her lead slightly to 64 points. Knar would have to win the final 800 by over 6 seconds to take the gold. But Nairi smartly stayed on her shoulder for most of the race and Knar won that event by less than a second with a time of 2:53.20.

The men began in the discus circle where Vigen threw 105’7.75” which was almost 10 feet more than any other competitor. Vigen next won the shot put with a heave of almost 44’6” compared to Mark’s 38’4”. After this event, Vigen’s lead had grown to 195 points. The long jump was the third event and proved to be a turning point. Mark leaped 20’6” while the defending champion could only muster 19’1”. The overall margin was now cut in half to 98 points. Meanwhile the battle for the bronze was equally close as Ara held a 99-point lead over Shant. The next event was the 200-meter dash and Mark finished just ahead of Vigen to win in 25.34 and reduce the gap to 75 points. Ara bested Shant by about half a second in the event to build his lead for third place to a comfortable 146 points. So in final 1500-meter run, Mark would need to beat Vigen by over 15 seconds to secure the gold. He was up to the task as he recorded a time of 5:10.20 to win the race. Vigen gave everything he had to try to keep pace but he ended up 21 seconds behind. Meanwhile Ara stayed within four seconds of Shant to hang on to the bronze medal.

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Krafian, Hamalian Win Pentathlons at AYF Olympics