By Bob Tutunjian
The women’s and men’s pentathlon events ended up being won by large margins by last year’s champions. In both cases, the winners had the top performance in virtually every event.
Knar Topouzian from Detroit took the gold over 2009 champion Jessica Sarkisian of Philadelphia with scores of 2008 and 1194, respectively. Five years ago, Jessica had won the closest women’s pentathlon ever by only 11 points, scoring a total of 2378. Since then, however, she played soccer for Drexel University in Philadelphia and was unable to come to Olympics. Knar was also not in her top condition, as she spent the summer at Camp Haiastan as a counselor. The pair were the only ladies to enter the grueling event this year.
Greater Boston’s Vigen Sarkisov defended his men’s title with 2490 points, a drop from his last year total of 2684. But Vigen wasn’t really tested as he finished over 500 points in front of Shant Topouzian of Detroit, who scored 1926 points. Shant had to come from behind to win the silver over Philly’s Aram Grigoryan, who had a total of 1693 for the bronze. Garen Bedian followed in 4th place to earn 3 points for his Chicago chapter.
The women’s competition started with the shot put early on Sunday morning. Knar took command by throwing 28’11”, which was less than an inch away from the open women’s shot put winning distance. The lead was already over 100 points. Knar then high jumped 4’7” to best Jessica by 6 inches. This mark was only an inch behind the open women’s jump champion and the lead was extended to almost 300 points. Next up was the long jump, which was tightly contested. Knar leaped 12’11” which was only 5 inches better than Jessica. The 200-meter dash was the 4th event and the Detroit speedster showed her stuff with a time of 29.04; this mark would have actually won the open women’s 200. With the lead now expanded to over 600 points, both ladies did not push the final 800-meter run, probably conserving energy for the final relay events.
Three-time champion Vigen Sarkisov won all of the first four events, as he did last year, and once again relaxed in the final 1600-meter run. He threw the discus 114’ and followed that with a shot put heave of 43’2”. The shot put would have won the open men’s event, while the discus was about a foot behind the top throw. At this point, Vigen had a lead of more than 200 points over Aram and 400 points over Shant in 3rd. The long jump was the third event and proved to be a turning point. Vigen once again won easily with an Olympics personal best of 20’2.25”. But the battle for 2nd place heated up as Shant leaped 18’1.5” and Aram could only record a distance of 14’6”. Shant had crept ahead of Aram by 30 points. The 200-meter dash proved to be decisive in the medal standings. While Vigen won again in 24.39, Topouzian was close on his heels all the way and finished with a time of 24.57. Aram could only muster a 27.06 and fell more than 200 points behind 2nd place. With the final positions already determined, the 4 competitors agreed to jog the final 1600-meter event and crossed the finish line in unison, showing their fraternal spirit.