Armenian Cycling Sensation, Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, Brings Pride to his Country


By Anahid Yeremian

YEREVAN — Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, a 19-year-old Armenian cycling sensation medals in every international competition of his age group that he participates in. Born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia, Hovhannisyan trains with trainers Albert Soloyan and Armen Gyozalian, at the Olympic Cycling School in Yerevan I first met Hovik, as his friends call him, and his fellow cyclists when they joined the final few miles of the bike-a-thon in Armenia to raise awareness and funds for the scientists of the Cosmic Ray Division of Yerevan Physics Institute. Until then, I had no idea that a cycling school even exists in Armenia, let alone that they produce internationally recognized champions.

Hovhannisyan is a quiet and humble person, but when he gets on his bike he becomes a tiger. I had the privilege of watching him and other Armenian cyclists race at the velodrome in Yerevan in the All-Armenia races in June of 2013. There were many different kinds of races collectively called an Omnium: individual races of different lengths, team races, junior races, senior races, and one really interesting one called the elimination race. In this latter, just about every cyclist in the competition gets on the track and after the first round around the track the competition starts. The last person in the pack gets eliminated every two rounds. Last man still riding wins the race. In principle the last man will have ridden about 60 to 80 rounds depending on the number of the original competitors.

There are many different kinds of races and different athletes participate in different ones. Winners from the All Armenia races then represent Armenia in various international competitions.

Hovhannes Hovhannisyan’s collection of accomplishments include:

•Race dedicated to Hovhannes’ grandfather, Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, November 2013: •First place in time trials and group road races, and the total point for all the races. From the same Olympic cycling school Artur Najaryan took second place in time trials and the road race, Hrayr Hovhannisyan took third place in the road race and in the general total points, Edgar Stepanyan took first place in the road race and general point classification and second place in the time trials while Pavel Stepanyan took second in the road race and third place in the time trial and general points in the Junior category.

•European Track Championships in Anadia Portugal, July 2013: First place in the 15 kilometer race, 4th place in the 10 kilometer race, 5th place in the elimination race.

•Warsaw Grand Prix, Poland, June 2013: Second place.

•All Armenia Races, June 2013: First place in the 25-kilometer race in the senior category, as a junior himself. First place in the 20-kilometer race, first place in the elimination race. From this same school seniors Varsham Darbinyan took second place in the 25-kilometer race. In these same races in the junior category from the Armenian Olympic Cycling school Pavel Stepanyan took first place in the three-kilometer race, Edgar Stepanyan took second place in 3 kilometer race and 60 kilometer races, Edward Matosyan took first place in the omnium,

•Race dedicated to Freedom fighter Samvel Gevorgyan, Armenia, June 2013: Omnium, first place. Varsham Darpinyan and Edward Matosyan from the Olympic Cycling School took second and third place respectively. Samvel Gevorgyan was a cyclist sports-master of USSR who perished in the battle to liberate Shushi in 1991. His son, a member of the Armenian Parliament, Artur Gevorgyan presented the awards.

•Cup of Poland races, May 2013: Third place in thee-kilometer individual pursuit and second place in 105 kilometer road race.

International Tour de Mazandaran race in Iran, September 2013: Third place in the 110 kilometer stage on the first day, Fourth place on the 95 kilometer mountain stage on the fifth day.

•International Tour de Mazandaran race in Iran, September 2012: Second place in the 89 kilometer stage on the first day, Second place in the 105 kilometer mountain stage race on the second day, third place in the 108 kilometer mountain stage race on the third day. Also Armenian Edward Matosyan took third place in the 89 kilometer first stage of this race on the first day.

•International Friendship races in Donesk, Ukraine, September 2011: Second place in three different races which earned him the first place in overall points among all the participants. This race is also on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slMM-Iz13aY

European Olympic Festival, Trabizon, Turkey, July 2011: Winner of the Semi-Final.

Hovhanisyan also participated in the senior competitions in the Cup of Russia international races in Saint Petersburg this summer, where he competed against athletes several years older than him and took an impressive 8th place out of 300 participants.

The Armenian Olympic Cycling School is home to some 230 athletes from the age of 10 to 30 who take the sport of cycling seriously. Its founder, Albert Soloyan, is an internationally respected trainer who has trained champions in Soviet Armenia and later in Honk Kong, Malaysia, and Iran. In 2008 he returned home to Armenia to found the Armenian Olympic Cycling school and is training champions in his homeland. He, his capable staff, and hard-working talented athletes have revived the sport of cycling in Armenia with very limited resources. Not only they have revived it, they have caused Armenia to excel in it. Soloyan, the coaching staff, the team doctor, the team mechanic, and the administrative staff treat the athletes as their own. Besides training them as cyclists, they mentor them in life-skills. This school is another of the hidden gems in Armenia that deserves to be revealed to the world and supported by the Armenian government and by philanthropists in Armenia and the Diaspora.

If you wish to know more about the Armenian Olympic Cycling School or to lend support visit the CRD website, www.crdfriends.org , I Want to Help link.

. If you want to see this young man in action visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D11x4hStZCo