“I’ll give up my place for younger athletes if I feel not ready” – Armenia’s Julfalakyan on Tokyo 2020
YEREVAN, DECEMBER 13, ARMENPRESS. Armenian sports was full of achievements, new discoveries and unseen stories in 2017.
However, for Arsen Julfalakyan, the most decorated wrestler of Armenia, 2017 was a year of trials and return to the ring after the Olympic Games.
In an ARMENPRESS exclusive, the silver medalist of the London Olympics talked about his scientific work, his experience in the IOC athletes’ commission, and other topics.
Recently you were participating in the IOC’s athlete’s commission. What is it about?
The entire commission was very extensive. There were representatives from all sports, including from non Olympic sports. There, we were representing our sport, not our state. IOC president Thomas Bach was also present. It was pleasant and educating. The first thing that you realize is that it is the athletes themselves who are in the center, not the officials. In international structures you understand that everything is evolving around the athlete, and not on the contrary around some official. Another interesting part was that all of us mostly didn’t know each other, but the atmosphere was very simple, there were no occurrences of arrogance of any kind. All of us wanted to make contact and exchange experience.
And what was the conference itself about?
It was about several topics. An entire day was dedicated to doping. The IOC president presented the details about the “Russian Case”. Although he did mention that “clean” athletes shouldn’t be affected as a result of the decision. In my belief, in this situation the decision that “clean” athletes can participate in the Olympic Games was the most appropriate one. One of the topics was the fight against doping, where urges were made to refrain from stimulants. They were speaking with examples, which showed that it is possible to achieve great results without doping. The other discussed issue was the smooth transition of athletes from sports to another profession. Again, they showed with examples as to how many athletes experience stress during this stage. But the opposite was also shown, how numerous athletes succeeded through this program. It turned out that the National Olympic Committee of Armenia unfortunately doesn’t have an agreement with the IOC regarding this program.
Arsen, this year you changed your club registration. Why did you decide to leave Bundesliga?
I left Budesliga as a result of several developments. Fundamental changes happened in Germany. A conflict happened between 6 premier clubs and Germany’s national federation. One of these clubs was my club. The problem was financial. These clubs were barred from participating in the Bundesliga tournament. I could’ve changed my club and transfer to another German club, but I didn’t want to, because at that time a law was passed that whoever takes part in this league will not be able to take part in international tournaments. It is a different league, it isn’t Bundesliga. But from Bundesliga, where 12 clubs still remained, I received a proposal, but a proposal for a weight class which wasn’t for me. We couldn’t reach an agreement, neither in terms of weight class, not financially.
And why did you choose the French League?
After this, I received proposals from both the Iranian league, the French and Polish. The French one was the most optimal. I had the occasion to interact with two leagues. And when I was facing a dilemma, Iran or France, I chose France. First of all, everything was a lot more real and simple. In Iran they were saying come and sign the contract, then the rest, while everything was specified in France, like it was in Germany. My club is the champion of France of the past two years. I have absolutely no regrets to have chosen this club. There is one painful thing, that the club won’t be able to compete for the championship this year. I will depart for France on December 14, and on the 16th the matches for the third place will be held. I have won all 7 matches in the individual ones also.
Not going ahead of time, will we see you in Tokyo 2020?
With these rules I am set to reach the Tokyo Olympics. I must be convinced and understand that I will contend for a medal in Tokyo 2020, or else I will refuse. Let a young athlete go, who will gain experience. Quantity is insignificant here, I understand that not all athletes are able to participate in 4 Olympic Games. If I were to feel that I am not ready for the Tokyo Games, I will give up my place for the younger athletes. At this moment I am sure that I can. Most importantly I feel freshness, desire and I have things to prove to myself.
Arsen, you live an active life, by forming public opinion. Is it possible to see you in the political arena?
If you would ask me a few years ago, I would’ve said yes. But now I am more inclined to say no. Because you understand that as much as the political arena is interesting, it is pretty much woven with various developments. Your qualities and vision alone aren’t sufficient. You must have a team, an army of supporters and you must trust them, which, even in case of small groups not always succeeds. I don’t rule it out, but now I am more interested in trying myself in international sports platforms.
What are you reading now?
Now I am reading Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis.
Thank you for the nice talk.
Interview by Varvara Hayrapetyan
Photos by Tatev Duryan and Arsen Julfalakyan’s personal archive