Armenian Wrestler Wins Silver in Baku, Gets Heckled by Azeris

Mihran Harutyunyan (left) presented silver medal at European Olymic Games in Baku (Photolour)
Mihran Harutyunyan (left) presented silver medal at European Olymic Games in Baku (Photolour)

Mihran Harutyunyan (left) presented silver medal at European Olymic Games in Baku (Photolour)

BAKU–Armenian Greco-Roman wrestler Mihran Harutyunyan (66 kg) won a silver medal at the European Games in Baku.

In the final Harutyunyan lost 0:2 to Artem Surkov of Russia.

The Armenian wrestler defeated opponents from Spain, Bulgaria, Serbia and Azerbaijan to reach the final.

Reuters reported that Harutyunyan not winning gold was greeted “vociferously” by the Azerbaijani crowd.

Harutyunyan was subjected to a hostile reception from home spectators who chanted ‘Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan’ and cheered wildly for his Russian opponent and gold medalist Artem Surkov throughout match.

The Armenian team marches in the opening ceremonies of the Baku Games

The Armenian team marches in the opening ceremonies of the Baku Games

Armenian athletes had been loudly booed and jeered during the opening ceremony of the inaugural European Games on Friday. The games are scheduled to conclude on June 28.

Harutyunyan’s compatriot Maksim Manukyan also fell short in the bronze medal bout for the men’s 85kg event, losing in another highly-charged affair against Turkey’s Metehan Basar.

Both Harutyunyan and Manukyan had enraged the crowd earlier by beating home favorites on their way to the latter stages before quickly disappearing into the safety of the changing rooms to escape the cacophony of noise.

“It is clear the judges were influenced by the public,” Harutyunyan told reporters. “No matter, it is what I expected before I came here. It was very difficult for me to focus with all the pressure that was on me.

“However, it is very important for my country that we are here, each victory (in the preceding rounds) was important and an enormous amount is expected of us back home.”

On Saturday, Games chief Simon Clegg told reporters the event’s organizers were aware that anti-Armenian feeling would run high but said they were well prepared for any eventuality.

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