Sunday at the Chicago AYF Olympics

Greater Boston Wins!

Shant Maroukhian in full stride

It was a super Sunday at the AYF Olympics that included the march of the athletes, the opening ceremonies, the track and field events and the Olympic Ball and trophy presentations. It was an action-packed day to say the least.

The track and field events took place at Triton College. The facilities were beautiful and, as with everything at this Olympics, close to the hotel. A special thanks to Garry Abezetian the AVP of Finance at Triton for making this awesome venue possible.

Alexan Topalian – Discus

We did have rain this weekend, but it was late Saturday night and end at dawn on Sunday. While the grounds at the discus and shotput were a bit soaked, none of the events were impacted. The weather was again in the mid-seventies and the skies overcast. It was perfect for the athletes and the fans. The stands were fuller longer than at most recent Olympics where the temperatures were in the 90s. They stayed so long that ALL the concessions sold out. As an added feature, the Chicago Olympic Steering Committee had the Three Armigos, David Mahdasian, Raffi Mahdasian and Armen Saryan bring their unique Racine/Milwaukee humorous banter in announcing and commenting on the events.

The March of the Athletes was as stirring as ever. There were former Kings and Queens and Varadian Spirit Award winners marching with the athletes that numbered in the hundreds. Stephanie Killian was the emcee, and there were beautiful speeches by all who spoke including Aram Kaloostian of the ARF, Kenar Charchaflian AYF Central Executive and Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian who also led us in prayer and blessed the athletes. They all spoke of the heritage of the AYF and its grand tradition of not only helping keep young people Armenian, but also being unsurpassed in developing and nurturing future community leaders. The games themselves were entertaining and competitive. Athletes, families and friends were cheering for both their own chapter, certainly, but also everyone else.

Dignitaries at the Opening Ceremonies

Boston came into Sunday leading in the point totals with Philadelphia within striking distance; Detroit and New Jersey were not far behind. Those results did not change. Boston was strong in the track and field with two high scorers: Anoush Krafian and Shant Maroukhian. They never relinquished their lead and won the 86th Annual AYF Olympics. Philadelphia was second, followed by Detroit, New Jersey and Providence. There were records broken. A significant one was the women’s 50 meter dash of 6.6 seconds set by Andrea Nranian of Detroit in 1979 and tied by Melanee Melkonian of Worcester in 2015. Melanie Sarafian of Detroit broke that record running an impressive race in 6.41 seconds. The other highlight of the day was the four Krafian sisters of Greater Boston running and winning the 4×100 relay. It is the first time four sisters ran a relay in AYF history. Four Sarajian brothers ran a relay some years ago but did not win. Araxie Krafian commented that it was most special to run this race with her sisters. “Being the oldest, I am glad to be able to continue in the AYF so this could happen. Hopefully, we can do it again,” she told me.

The Greater Boston team 2019

The day was only half over. Everyone returned to the hotel, had some dinner, freshened up and then went to the Olympic Ball. Hachig Kazarian, Steve Vosbikian, Raffi Massoyan, Ara Dinkjian, Jim Kzirian, Michael Kazarian and the great Onnik Dinkjian energized the ballroom with traditional Armenian music. The dance floor was full until the award presentations, and then it was mobbed. The presentation of the awards and trophies simply took the AYFers’ energy to a new level, and that lasted the rest of the night.

Philadelphia is the runner-up

Here are a few of the trophies presented:

  • The Ernest Nahigian Sportsmanship Trophy went to Daron Hamparian of Greater Boston.
  • The Pentathlon winners were Aram Keshgegian of Philadelphia and Lori Ganjian of Greater Boston.
  • Anoush Krafian broke the women’s long jump record.
  • Detroit set a new record in the co-ed swim relay.
  • The complete results will be in the Armenian Weekly AYF Olympic Special Issue coming out later this month.
Kai Kazarin with Ardem and Jim Hardy

As the weekend has ended, it is time to thank the 86th Annual Olympics Steering Committee for a job very well done. It is a mammoth undertaking requiring over a year of planning to make an Olympics Weekend as successful as this.  Here are the executives of the Steering Committee:

  • Ari Killian, Co-Chair
  • Garin Bedian, Co-Chair
  • Hagop Soulakian, Athletics
  • Hovig Vartanian, Treasurer/Hye Pass
  • Lena Surenian, Administration
  • Renee Devedjian, Ad Book
  • Ardem Hardy, Marketing/Sponsorship

The Ad Book was phenomenal! The Saturday picnic was a great success! The entertainment was nonpareil! The venues were top-notch and close! The transportation was easy and reliable! The Alumni Night Food was beyond compare! The Welcoming Desk was exactly that:  welcoming! The security at the hotel was very good! The Opening Ceremonies? The PR? The website? All excellent! Congratulations to one and all for hosting a phenomenal Olympics!

See everyone next year in Worcester. Bringing it back to where it all began!

Diane and Garry Abazetian with Hagop Soulakian
Mark Gavoor
Mark Gavoor is Associate Professor of Operations Management in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago. He is an avid blogger and oud player.



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