RIO DE JANEIRO (Armenian Weekly)—Armenian-American gymnast Houry Gebeshian made history on August 7 by becoming the first female gymnast to represent the Republic of Armenia in Olympic competition. Gebeshian competed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on the bars, beam, floor, and vault, wearing her all-white leotard featuring a sequin of Mount Ararat.
“My goal was to bring Armenia on the map,” she told the Wall Street Journal after her performance.
Gebeshian is also likely to have a gymnastics skill named after her, following her Aug. 7 performance on the uneven bars—a routine that included a 360 degree turn to get from the low bar to the high bar—in what she calls “The Gebeshian.”
Gebeshian finished her routine by kissing the uneven bars and went on to kiss the other pieces of equipment on her subsequent performances. “I just wanted to thank the sport,” she told the Wall Street Journal.
Though she did not qualify for the final medal round, Gebeshian says she accomplished all she wished for coming into the Games. “What more could I ask for? [I] Loved my Olympic experience. [I] was smiling the entire time,” said Gebeshian in a post on her official Facebook page following her performance.
Born in Auburndale, Massachusetts, to parents Hagop Gebeshian and Christine Abrahamian, Gebeshian placed 21st out of 36 competitors at the Pre-Olympic Test Event in Rio de Janeiro on April 17, which earned her a spot at the Olympic Games in Rio.
Gebeshian’s Olympic journey began more than six years ago. “One of my dad’s friends [Paul Varadian] was on the National Olympic Committee of Armenia and they were looking for female athletes—they don’t really have many female representatives. He asked if I would be willing to compete for Armenia, and I thought, ‘Why not?’” she told the Armenian Weekly in March. Armenia’s Olympic Committee helped Gebeshian obtain Armenian citizenship and she has been competing for the country ever since.
Gebeshian was born and raised in an Armenian household—speaking the language, eating the food, and embracing all the customs that come along with Armenian family life. “I grew up in a very Armenian household, which spoke the language and maintained the customs and traditions.” Today, she is proud and fortunate to be a part of what she calls a “vibrant” Armenian community in Cleveland.