By Lusine Shahbazyan
Erik Arstamyan did not participate in the opening of the Pan-Armenian Games in Gyumri. We could not come to Armenia because of the blockade by Azerbaijan. Narek Abrahamyan, President of the Boxing Federation of Artsakh, and the personal trainer of the senior youth European champion and European youth bronze medalist Erik Arstamyan, said this from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), in an interview with NEWS.am Sport.
During the opening ceremony of the 8th Pan-Armenian Games held in Gyumri, Armenia on August 5, Erik Arstamyan, who was the torch bearer of Artsakh in these Games, was supposed to participate in the parade of the Stepanakert team, but the European champion and his coach could not come from Artsakh capital Stepanakert to Gyumri due to the Azerbaijani blockade of Artsakh.
Mr. Abrahamyan, during the opening ceremony of the Pan-Armenian Games, your student's name was also announced during the presentation to the Stepanakert delegation.
Yes, it was announced, they talked about Erik, but we were not present at the opening ceremony and we are not participating in the Games. We really wanted to participate, it was planned, we wanted to come, but it didn't work out. We could not come because the [Lachin] road is completely closed [by Azerbaijan].
Is Erik currently in Stepanakert?
Erik, many athletes, representatives of sports, kids like him are under a blockade. It's a really bad situation here. No one is not getting out of here, can't get out.
Erik was supposed to participate in the second CIS games these days, but we missed that, too.
During the opening ceremony of the Pan-Armenian Games, it was presented how Erik Arstamyan brings the torch of unity from Stepanakert to Armenia. When was the passing of the torch?
It was videotaped on August 3-4. We recorded, send it with a video. We couldn't come out, everything was filmed in order to be shown at the opening, but in reality we didn't come out of Artsakh.
What other tournaments did you miss during this time?
At the moment, it's the CIS games; Erik was to participate with number one. He is number one in the [Armenian national] team in the 54kg weight category; but since we are under blockade here, another boxer—from Gyumri—was taken to Belarus instead. The team waited for him until the last moment, but nothing could be done in this regard.
In this situation, is training going as normal? Or do you have a break?
We don't stop training. Moreover, we train more to become stronger. This situation has the opposite effect on all of us. In this difficult time, athletes think more about fighting. There was not a single student who did not come to training, gave up, was disappointed. Not only the students, but everyone; no one in Artsakh gives up.
There is no food, nothing to drink, we only have meat and some vegetables we have grown; this is how we eat, feed our children with. But there is not a single person who wants to leave here (…). We are ready to starve like this, but keep our land. And the athletes [of Artsakh] live with this same psychology, and train every day as if they will go to tournaments tomorrow.
Mr. Abrahamyan, who is included in the Stepanakert team in the Pan-Armenian Games?
According to my information, eight athletes from Artsakh are participating in the Pan-Armenian Games. It will be hard for me to say in which sports they participate, but they are all from Artsakh. Before the blockade of the [Lachin] road by Azerbaijan, these athletes were in Armenia, or were at a tournament in another place and could not return to Artsakh.