07 April 2011

Albert Azarian

Albert Azarian is a Armenian gymnast from the days of Soviet yore.  I sought an Armenian gymnast, but all I came up with was Azarian.  His heyday was in the 1950s and 60s, which was quite a different scene from the gymnastics today.  This video is about the uneven bars, but you get the gist that gymnastics has evolved a lot in 50 years.  This video below starts off with the Azarian cross, which I have personally never seen performed in a rings routine.  He was known as the "king of the rings" and he gave it some real style and panache.  Plus, I think the mustache didn't hurt one bit. 

He competed for the USSR, but he is Armenian, although he was born is Azerbaijan.  He was discovered as a teenager when some Armenian gymnasts rolled into town.  He tried to perform some tricks and was impressive enough to garner an invitation to train in Yerevan (he worked as an iron smith, which probably helped his upper strength).  His son, Eduard, became an internationally famous gymnast who now trains young gymnasts in California.  The legend of Azarian lives on, even if the Azarian Cross isn't the most popular move.

I managed to find other cool videos, including this one of his high bar routine.  As you can see from Nemov to today, the difficulty of the apparatus has gone up quite a bit.  If you did that dismount, you would be considered a less experienced gymnast.  This montage shows quite a bit more of his competition routines, but I don't know Armenian, so I didn't get a whole lot more out of it.  He was a pioneer in rings and did well on the horizontal bar, but his eponymous move on rings is a testament to what he contributed to the apparatus.