By Edmond Y. Azadian
During the 31st summer Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro as the US swimming legend Michael Phelps was hoarding gold, I was reminded of a parable told by an Armenian hero, Khrimian Hairig, upon his return from Berlin to Constantinople, dashing Armenia’s dreams of emancipation. The year was 1878 and the scene was the Conference of Berlin, a follow-up conference to that of San Stefano the same year, when the Armenian Case was brought to an international forum for the first time in modern history.
Upon his return to Constantinople, Khrimian Hairig related his famous parable of “The Iron Ladle.” He compared the conference in Berlin to a feast with a huge pot of harissa on the table. Those participants who had iron ladles in their hands were able to take their share of harissa. He, on the other hand, had only a paper ladle, which disintegrated in the harissa and therefore he had returned home empty handed.
Watching the Olympic games, I was waiting for the Armenian iron ladle, which finally was capable of getting something for the nation with the gold medal won by Artur Aleksanyan in the 98-kilogram category of Greco-Roman wrestling.
It was not enough that he defeated his Cuban opponent, Yasmany Lugo Cabrera; he had made it to the finals by defeating the Turkish wrestler Cenk Ildem, rendering his gold medal victory all the more meaningful. Aleksanyan, whose nickname is the White Bear, let off a roar after winning, which was cheered on by many around the world.
The Olympic Games represent the ultimate test for all the participating athletes, who train and prepare for years, pampered by associations and supported by their respective governments.