Houry Gebeshian, Armenia's First Female Olympic Gymnast, joins Jill and Alison on Keep the Flame Alive to discuss her experiences at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Episode 158: Houry Gebeshian, Armenia’s First Female Olympic Gymnast

Release Date: October 15, 2020

Houry Gebeshian not only became Armenia’s first female Olympic artistic gymnast, she also got a move named after her at the Rio 2016 Olympics! We talk about how she developed the Gebeshian, an uneven bars mount, as well as how she came to represent Armenia, and what it’s like to be an Olympian from a country that doesn’t have a lot of resources.

Follow Houry online on Insta, Twitter and Facebook. Interested in getting help with college recruiting for gymnastics? Check out Houry’s business Full Out College Recruiting.

Here are Houry’s wonderful routines from Rio:

  • Uneven bars:

  • Balance beam:

  • Vault:

  • Floor:

Our TKFLASTAN Update includes news from:

We also have Games Updates from Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024. Plus, some good news from Sarajevo.

Thanks for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!


Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note. If you would like to see transcripts that are more accurate, please support the show.

Houry Gebeshian: [00:00:00] Oh my gosh. It like, I, every time I watch that video or just kind of relive that moment, I get chills, cuz I, I can’t even believe that it, it worked out so.

Music: Mid ISSU,

Houry Gebeshian: the greatest festival of our contemporary society. The Olympic games is about to begin. This

Music: is oh, they’re

yeah. Oh, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. That that is an Olympic champion.

Jill: Ready. Hello and welcome to another episode of keep the flame alive. The podcast for fans of the Olympics in Paralympics. I am your host. Jill. Jarris joined as always by my lovely co-host Allison brown, Allison. Hello, how are you today?

Alison: Well, did you see my cool move to get to my seat? I jumped over the step I spun around and then made a perfect discount

Jill: that is now the brown. Exactly.

Alison: in the podcasting code of official code of

Jill: points. you now have a Mo move named after you it’s all I’ve

Alison: ever wanted. I think though I would prefer called the Allison.

You can make that choice. Yeah,

Jill: you can. I mean, we haven’t really discussed about the code of points in executing your own moves yet. We gotta work this out. leave that for the staff meetings.

Alison: the meetings with the podcasting officials.

Jill: Yes, exactly. Exactly. But we’ll work it out. So you either had the Allison or you had the brown and you’ve laid down the gauntlet because I needed move for myself as well. You need a Jarris I need a Jarris so exactly. I can, I can think of plenty of Jarris moves.

That would not be appropriate.

Music: oh,

Jill: so we’re talking about moves because we are talking with an Olympian who does have a move named after her. We talked with horde Gian. She is the. First female journalist to represent the Republic of Armenia at the Olympic games. She competed at Rio 2016, where she placed 38th and the all around and successfully executed a brand new uneven bars Mount, which is now known as the Gian.

Take a listen. Well, I know where I wanna start. Where, where do you wanna start? Go ahead. I wanna start with her move. Oh, okay. Gosh. Yeah, we gotta talk about the Gian move on the uneven bars, because that is pretty amazing to. So, how did you come up with it? What’s, what’s the spark of the idea for that?

Houry Gebeshian: So, you know, I wanted to make my mark in one way or another.

And the really the biggest way that you can do that in the sport of gymnastics is by inventing a skill, having it be named after you and then having. Others compete this same skill, you know, in years and years and years and years to come. And so it’s kind of always a dream of most people to be like, oh, you know what?

I have a skill named D for me. So I had like gone through pretty much all of my training. And it was maybe like two or three months before the Olympic games. And I kind of had this realization like, okay, I’m I’m not gonna make it into a final, I don’t think. No. Yes. I’m the first female representing the Republic of Armen in the sport of gymnastics, um, at the Olympic games, but, but I wanted something more.

And so then I just started playing around and I looked at our rule book to see like what gymnastic skill hadn’t been done yet. And. That was hard to find because like every gymnastic skill has been done other than. Adding a twist or a flip or something like that. And so I had to be super, super creative and I kind of put together a old Mount that I had and then got the idea of just adding a full twist from actually a friend of mine who was playing on the trampoline.

And she was like, well, why don’t you put these two things together? And after a bunch of trial and error and falling and getting back up and trying it again, um, I ended. Finally catching the bar a couple of times. And I said, you know what, I’m gonna try this. I’m gonna try this, the Olympic games. And if I hit it, it’s gonna be my move.

So that’s kinda how it came to be.

Alison: Well, it’s gorgeous. It really is beautiful. So you propel yourself for, I’m gonna use some very low tech terms. You propel yourself over the low bar, do a full twist, catch the high bar, and then just, you know, tip to a handstand. Like it’s nothing.

Houry Gebeshian: Yeah, pretty much. It’s definitely not nothing, but, uh, yep.

That’s about it.

Alison: how many times did you slam your shins on the low bar? Oh, my

Houry Gebeshian: gosh, too many to count. Um, I had bruises on my legs. I would like smash my fingers into the high bar. So I had, you know, swollen [00:05:00] fingers. It, it was traumatic, but, uh, luckily I made it through all the, the scrapes and bumps and I eventually caught bars.

when it counted.

Alison: Oh yeah. The, because you qualified the move at the Olympic. And correct to me, to me, it looked perfect. Were you happy with how you actually performed the skill at that competition?

Houry Gebeshian: Yes, I was so relieved if you, you know, watch any of the videos, um, from the Olympic games, bars was my very first event.

That skill was my very first skill. So of course one I’m nervous cuz Hey, I’m at the Olympic games. like, this is the real deal. But two. Like I had never competed this skill before I wanted to make sure it was perfect. Cuz you actually don’t get another chance if it’s amount to do it over again and get it named after you.

So there was tons of pressure and tons of things going through my mind. But once I hit that skill and, um, I, you know, seamlessly did that Kip can’s hand stand like you said, the rest of the routine was super smooth. The rest of the Olympics was like, I was just so happy to be there and so relieved and just there to enjoy my time.

So yeah, I, it was definitely nerve wracking being there and doing it, but I’m glad it worked out

Alison: and you stuck the landing on the.

Houry Gebeshian: Yes. Oh my gosh. It like, I, every time I watch that video or just kind of relive that moment, I get chills cuz I, I can’t even believe that it, it worked out so well. Well, and

Jill: what I love in watching you compete at Rio is that after every, after every routine you kiss the apparatus and you could tell you were having so much fun being there and it, it really showed in all of your performance.

Houry Gebeshian: Thank you. Thank you. I, and that was definitely something that was not planned. Once I like caught the bar on the Gian and I stuck that landing on bars. I was like, this is amazing. Like, how can I show my appreciation? And that’s kind of where that came from. I, you know, hugged and kissed the bars. And I was like, you know what?

I’m gonna, this is my last time on each one of these events. This is my last time in front of this crowd. I need to show my appreciation in one way or another. So I just, I continued that on to each, each one of the events and the crowd loved.

Alison: They really reacted, especially on bars I noticed. And it was so sweet.

And of course, Jill and I are sort of known for crying at things. And I’m like, how, how many times do

Music: I need to watch this video? Cause I’m gonna start crying every time. oh, I’m flattered.

Houry Gebeshian: And

Alison: then I do wanna mention this. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Houry Gebeshian: Mm-hmm no, I was just gonna say I I’m glad that you know, it totally makes a difference when the crowd is there with you and they’re kind of experiencing the experience.

With you. And that was something that was important to me as well. Cause not only is this my last time, but this is a show and this is entertainment and I, and I wanted everybody to feel part of my journey. And so I hope that they did. I, I feel like, you know, what you’re saying to me is that you did so thank you for that.

Alison: And I do wanna mention, cause I know we wanna go back to the beginning, but, and I’m glad I didn’t know this. When I first watched the video was that Mount ARA was beaten on your leotard.

Houry Gebeshian: Yes. Yes, I need. So that, that was the thing. Like I there’s so many layers in me competing for Armenia representing Armenia.

You know, coming back to my heritage and, you know, doing something big for our nation. Um, especially, you know, right now we are in so much turmoil. Um, you know, not to bring us too much politics or anything, which I wasn’t planning on doing, but like Armenia is at war right now and nobody knows about it. Um, and so doing those types of little things, wearing Mount ARA on my chest, um, representing a nation that is small, but mighty.

Is is important to me and, and was super important that, you know, people noticed that. So thank you for noticing that, um, it, it definitely was important and, and something that really signified kind of who I am and, and what we are as, as our men. So

Jill: Rio was your last meet. How long was your career as a gymnast?

Houry Gebeshian: So I started when I was five, I trained, you know, I, I trained all the levels. I competed in college and then I. Tried for my actually first attempt at competing at the 2012 Olympic games. And I missed qualifying, um, by two tens, um, and was a reserve athlete. And of course, nobody dropped out of the Olympic games.

So I didn’t go in 2012 and then I actually quit gymnastics for. About three years, I went to, uh, graduate school to become a physician assistant, did my medical training, and then I decided, Hey, I’m gonna, I’m gonna come back. So I think in total, maybe about 20 years, um, of my life we’ve spent doing gymnastics.

I took a little little [00:10:00] break there right before the 2016 games. But yeah, it’s been a, a big part of my life for pretty much all my life. And when did

Jill: you realize you could compete

Houry Gebeshian: for Armenia? So my actually, so my mom will always be like, you know, I told you to do this when you were a little kid. Um but so like, I, I always kind of knew the possibility was there, but I didn’t actually decide to go for it until I was in college.

Um, until I was a senior in college. And I realistically thought that, Hey, maybe I could do this. And I was good enough to compete at an Olympic games or even internationally in and of itself. So I got my citizenship, um, my dual citizenship in 2010. I’m pretty sure. And then my first international competition was in 2011.

So that was when I was 22, maybe. And then I, you know, hung up my grips for a little while and started back up when I was 25. Not trying again for my second push at the Olympics in 2000. So Alison’s

Jill: also working on her dual citizenship with Italy. What I am. What was the process of, what was your process of getting citizenship?


Houry Gebeshian: yeah. Um, so my process was. A little bit different than, you know, the average person, just because I had an Olympic committee that was kind of behind me that said, um, yes, we like, they wrote me a letter of recommendation, I guess that would be what it would be called, said. Yes, we would like her to represent her country.

She has Armenian heritage, you know, please grant her, her citizenship. But basically what I needed. I, I needed to prove my heritage to Armenia both. You know, my grandparents, um, my entire family is from Armenia through the Armenian genocide. Most Armenians have been dispersed all over the world. Um, and we ended up here in the United States, but so I had to do that.

Um, I had to go to Armenia, like physically go to Armenia, take like a citizenship test, I guess that that’s what it’s called. And then. That was, that was it fill out some paperwork. And a couple of months later, I had to go back, um, meet with a couple of people and, uh, I had my citizenship, so it was, it was expedited and a little bit easier for me, but I think.

As long as you know, even now I, I have had athletes that I’ve worked with that are Armenian American that wanna do the same things that I do. And it’s a little bit easier now. Cause you don’t actually physically have to go to Armenia. You can just go to the consulate here in the United States. So, but basically prove your citizenship, pass the test and pay a little fee and you’re, you’re good to go.

Alison: so you mentioned the Armenian Olympic committee. What was your relationship? How did that relationship.

Houry Gebeshian: Yeah. So I was actually super fortunate and really lucky. My parents had a very good friend. His name is Paul. He. Actually was like a liaison part of the Armenian Olympic committee. Um, and he went to college with my, my dad with good friends with my mom and his daughters did gymnastics with me growing up and through kind of discussions with my parents and kind of watching me grow up in the sport.

He was like, you know what? It would be really great if who. Compete for us, cuz one, we need more women to represent us cuz you know, most of the medals that Armenia wins or the sports that they’re in are like these male dominated like boxing, wrestling, weight lifting. Um, so they needed women. And he was like, you know what?

She, she has a lot of talent. She has what it takes. Um, what are your guys’ thoughts? So it was lucky for us that we had a friend that was kind of in, in the know and in the, in that guided us in the right direction. Cuz without him, I wouldn’t have even thought that this was a possibility for me to do. Uh, and I probably would’ve brushed off my mom and been like, Hey mom, you’re crazy.

I’m definitely not doing that. But an outsider, that’s actually part of the Olympic committee saying, Hey yes, you have what it takes was a, was a nice little.

Alison: So, what was the reaction in Armenia? Because obviously you were raised here in the United States. You’ve always lived here in the United States.

What was the reaction there to you competing for Armenia?

Houry Gebeshian: Uh, I think it was twofold. Um, there’s always a little bit of like difficulty in. Like being a Dipo aspirin, um, of any country to really make the, um, like locals and individuals feel like, you know, you’re part of, you’re part of them, even though you’re not there.

So that was a big struggle for me to really be like, I am Armenian. I am one of you guys, even though I don’t, you know, live down the street from you. I am one of. So, so that was an interesting kind of struggle, um, to overcome. But I think once I was able to show them who I am and what I am made for, and kind of my passion in, in both our culture, um, as well as my sport and just being a [00:15:00] professional, uh, I think I earned that respect from the locals, from the gymnastics committee, kind of everybody involved.

And then there’s, you know, the whole other side. I kind of was a celebrity, even though I wasn’t there. Um, I did visit Armenia last year in 2019. Finally, I spent five weeks there, um, and kind of did a little tour around, um, visited the gymnastics facilities there that who made a lot of work, but I. You know, kind of, kind of tried to get a feel of what’s there who’s there.

What can I do to help? And it was really kind of eye opening to see that people knew who I was. Um, you know, they were like, we watched it on TV. You were amazing, you know, all these things that I did not expect, cuz there was so many things to kind of overcome to earn that respect. But. Yeah, it, it was it.

It’s cool to be like a little bit of a local celebrity, I guess. Um, like unknowingly, cuz I’m not there.

Alison: so you can, you know, it’s sort of like Hannah Montana, where you have your normal day life and then you could always fly over there. If you need your ego stroked.

Houry Gebeshian: I mean, I wasn’t that famous, but he to know who I was, it was funny.

Cuz I have a friend here who, who moved over to Armenia, um, and married one of, one of my good friends from church. And I, when I was preparing to go to Armenia, I was like, you know, what, what should I expect? I haven’t been there since I competed at Rio. And he was like, oh, people are gonna know who you are.

Um, nobody’s gonna come up to you. Nobody’s gonna ask if you’re autograph it’s different in Armenia than it is here in the United States, but people may, you know, look and be like, oh wow. Like that’s her. And I was like, oh my gosh, like, I’m not like that. That’s so strange. like, I, I don’t know if I’m ready for that, but no, everybody was super respectful, but it was, it was nice to, to be able to go and at least.

Kinda like make somebody’s day or put a smile on somebody’s face and, and meet a whole bunch of people and hopefully impact them in a positive way.

Alison: What was the reaction from the American gymnastics community to you competing for a different country?

Houry Gebeshian: For me, I Mo mostly it was supportive. I was older. So I competed at the Olympic games when I was 27.

So I think right now the culture of gymnastics is actually changing. People are really encouraging athletes to continue their career. Into their twenties and further. And so when people realized that I was going to continue doing this and hopefully like positively impact, you know, my Homeland and, and where I’m from, I mostly got positive encouragement.

Um, people were super excited about it. I, you know, was not at the level that you know, of a Simone bile, somebody’s getting a gold medal, um, at the Olympic game. So the transition was a little bit easier for me to, um, compete for another country versus the United States. Um, I just had to make that choice, whether I was done competing for the us and starting to compete for Armen, but overall it was, it was super positive and encourag.

Jill: Oh, that’s good. What kind of support did you get from like the Armenian Olympic committee and the international Olympic committee? Because I’ve watched videos from the Olympic channel that promote you as being the first gymnast from Armenia. And they like it when countries get added to sports. If that makes sense.

Houry Gebeshian: Mm-hmm . Yes. Uh, and that was one of the main reasons why I like, you know, they wanted me to do gymnasts for Armenia increase their, you know, women count, increase their sport count. Um, it was a, it was a big deal for the international Olympic committee, as well as for the Armenia Olympic committee. However, the support I got was very minimal.

Um, a lot of my gymnastics journey was done on my own. Yes. They provided me the opportunity. Yes. They helped me get my citizenship. Yes. They opened up a ton of doors for me, and I absolutely would never have been able to do anything that I did without the opportunity that they provided me. However, all of my training, you know, I, I coached myself.

I. They paid for everything on my own. My family helped me a little bit. I, you know, worked full time as a physician assistant while I was training full time for the Olympic games so that I could. Provide for myself and, you know, kind of make this dream a reality. So they provided me the opportunity, but actually getting to the Olympic games was kind of all on me.

I needed to make sure I was ready physically, mentally, emotionally, as well as financially, you know, all of my flights, all of my leotards, all of my equipment, everything that’s kind of on me to, to make sure I got. And I did, it was my goal and my dream and they gave me the, the green light. So I took it and I ran with them and I did the best I possibly could with the limited resources that I had

Alison: a sign note.

Cuz you mentioned [00:20:00] how it was all on you and that you are a physician assistant. And I wondered if when you got hurt, cuz I know you’ve had various injuries. If you just looked at the trainers and were like, um, no, I’m sorry. That’s not how that should be.

Houry Gebeshian: Well, luckily I actually had a really smooth return to gymnastics, um, as far as injuries and like, I did everything I possibly could to be as healthy as possible. My nutrition was super on point my strength of conditioning, super on point again, my training plans on point all of these things, I used pretty much my education from my undergrad, as well as my graduate schooling to plan out my nutrition, to plan out my strength and conditioning, to plan out my training plans so that I wouldn’t get.

Loss of rehab or lots of rehab so that, um, I didn’t have to rehab it with an injury, but you know, I did have aches and pains. I did go see professionals that, uh, would be able to help me out, but I did have a good idea of kind of what my body was doing and how my body felt so that I could take it easy if I knew something was coming on or, um, I knew when to push myself.

But yeah, I, I do have a background in sports medicine, so I was familiar, but. I never said like, oh, you know, aren’t doing the right job. cause you know, everybody has, has their strength. And that, that definitely wasn’t my strength to treat my own injuries. If I had them. That would just be me it did help with my training, but, uh, I definitely would’ve had to have help if I did get injured.

Luckily I didn’t.

Jill: So Rio getting there. What was it like when you arrived and tell us what your experiences just and the non competition aspect of.

Houry Gebeshian: Yeah. So it’s CRA like it’s so crazy, cuz that was like already four years ago, over four years ago. Like I can’t even believe it, but it was interesting cuz.

So I showed up about a week before my competition ever was about a week before the opening ceremonies. So we were, and a lot of the athletes did as well. So we were like living in the Olympic village and training in the facilities before the actual games started. So once the game started there, wasn’t really like a, oh, Hey, like I’m at the Olympic games.

Like this is happening. Um, cuz we had kind of already been there and that, that was like became quote unquote, like the norm for the week. But when it finally hit me that like, this is real, like I’m here. Like this is my shot. This is my chance. This is what I’ve worked my entire life for was actually when I walked in the opening ceremonies.

and like fi we, we have to, as athletes, like we’re waiting and waiting and waiting outside the, um, arena for hours. I think we showed up at like two or three o’clock and the opening ceremonies don’t even start till like seven or eight at night. And so we’re waiting there for hours and we hear the excitement.

We hear everything that’s going on. And finally, at the end, like you get shuffled in through like this small tunnel and then you get out into this big arena and. It’s like lights, confetti music, like cheering and everything. And then, and you just look around and I finally was like, oh my gosh, I’m at the Olympic games.

These people are here. Watching me like it was, I mean, not just me, but you know, we’re we’re here. So that was, that was pretty cool. Like kind of a, I don’t know, realization that, that this is, this is how it is, and this is, this is real. Um, but then just general life in the village was, was totally normal.

You know, there’s cafeteria, there was a game room. I was there by. I didn’t have anybody else, like on my quote unquote, like gymnastics team. So I made friends with lots of other athletes that were also kind of there by themselves representing their nations. Um, it was hard to tell like who spoke English and who didn’t.

So that was an interesting type of like, can I communicate with you? Can I not? But, but yeah, I mean, just general life was, was fun and exciting. And I tried to, once my competition was done, which was, I think on day two of the Olympics, there was two more weeks of. Events. So I tried to go to as many things as I possibly could.

You know, I went to tracks, swimming, volleyball, like everything. Cuz when else am I gonna be at the Olympic games? When else am I gonna be able to see people make their dreams happen right in front of my, my eyes. So that was kind of my Olympic experience for the three weeks I was there in a

Jill: nutshell, did you have a single room at the village or did they put you with a room?

So the way that

Houry Gebeshian: they worked were like, they were like little suites. So in my suite, I was with, um, other girls on the Armenian team. There were two wrestlers and two wait, listers. And so [00:25:00] they, we had three bedrooms. I was by myself at my bedroom and then the two wrestlers had their. Bedroom together. And then the two weightlifters had their bedroom together and then we shared a bathroom and then we had like a common living room space.

So I had my own room and my own like privacy, but, um, was kind of part of an, a little apartment, uh, with the other girls on the Armenian team, in their respective sports.

Alison: Did the weight lifters ever try and bench press.

Houry Gebeshian: No, not at all, but they were, I mean, they were real strong. I, I did also try and watch as many, um, of the Armenian, you know, sporting events and they were pretty amazing.

I was very impressed by, by their strength, but no, they were all really sweet and, and great people.

Alison: So we’ve heard a lot about processing with, you know, big teams, like, uh, team Canada and team USA. What’s the process like for a very small team, like Armenia, do things, just show up in the mail in a box.

Houry Gebeshian: Uh, what, what, what do you mean?

What, what things like


Alison: when you get your, your uniform, your opening ceremony outfit, any other things they give to.

Houry Gebeshian: Yes. So for me, uh, that, that actually is an interesting story. Um, because Armenia is not like the most reliable Armenians are always late. They’re kind of on their own time, like, eh, it’ll get done.

Like they’re very not type a and I am very type a, and I’m sure it was different for the athletes that were in Armenia, cuz they, you know, they got their luggage, they got their sweatsuits, they got their, you know, whatever their. Competition uniforms were on their opening, ceremonies, uniforms, all of that stuff.

They got packaged and they probably picked it up at the national training, um, facility, like in the middle of Armenia, like in the capital city. But for me, I’m in the United States. And so I’m like, well, how am I gonna get these things that I need for my leotard? I mean, I bought my own leotard. I didn’t buy it.

Um, ozone leotard sponsored it for me. And they, they made that Mount utter at leotard. And that was really a, a big deal, um, for me. And I was really grateful for them, but the opening ceremonies uniform was like, that was huge. I was like, I need to have this uniform in my. Before I show up to the Olympics, cuz I can’t, can’t really trust that they’re gonna remember to bring mine cuz you know, they would’ve passed out everybody else’s and who’s gonna remember that.

There’s one more to bring. So I actually had a friend who was going to Armenia just randomly. He was going to Armenia a couple of weeks before the Olympic games and I called them up and I said, you need to do me this huge favor. Please go to the national training center. Pick up this uniform, they are, they know that I’m gonna be like, you are gonna be there and you’re supposed to pick it up and, you know, everything is all set and she’s like, okay, are you sure?

Like what, what am I supposed to do? I was like, just get the, get the uniform and bring it to me. And so he’s like, okay, great. Got the uniform. He’s like guarding it with his life on his way back. Um, back to the United States, he mailed it to me cuz he is actually lives in LA. He mailed it to me. I got it.

Maybe. A week before the, I was leaving for the Olympics, it needed tailoring. It needed sitting. So I was like, well, good thing. I had it, cuz it was gonna be falling off of me if I didn’t. So I, then everything was all set. It was in my hands. I brought it with me to the Olympics. And everything was all set and ready to go.

And the coach that ended up coming with me, he, I had told him, you know, uh, my friend is gonna bring this stuff. Do you want me to get your uniform too? And he was like, no, no Armenia will bring it. It’s not a big deal. Like they’ll it, it will be there when we arrive. Well Armenia forgot his opening ceremonies uniform.

And they had said, well, you don’t have your uniform. You can’t walk in the ceremonies. And I was like, thank goodness. I like went through all of this trouble to get my uniform because I was not gonna miss the opening ceremonies. That was super important to me. Um, luckily he borrowed another like. That wasn’t gonna walk.

Um, so it was fine, but there wouldn’t have been somebody for me. So it, it was a little bit different for me to get the things that I needed. Um, just cause I wasn’t in Armenia and they were like, oh, you could, you can come to Armenia and pick it up. And I’m like, I’m not gonna travel all the way to Armen.

Just pick up my thing. So anyway, it worked out really well. That was a long and drawn out story, but , but that’s how it worked, worked for me.

Jill: how was the difference between the opening ceremonies and the closing? Open

Houry Gebeshian: ceremonies was definitely more formal, you know, everybody marches out, um, in their own respective countries.

Um, and the closes ceremonies was more of like a gathering of like all of the nations and everyone just celebrating like the, the major accomplishments that everybody did. And it was just like a huge, a huge [00:30:00] party. Um, Which was really nice. I kind of liked how they did that. I don’t know if they do that every kind, but yeah, you were kind of just interspersed with all the other athletes.

It didn’t matter if you were from Armenia, the United States, you know, rush hour, wherever everybody was just together and having a good time. Um, yeah, it was, it was really cool. It was nice.

Jill: Have you gotten the O L. For your, after your name, the O uh, I have.

Houry Gebeshian: Okay. Yeah. Good. I got, I got that little certificate.

I, I put it at the end of my, my signature. I’m not sure if anybody knows what it means, but I still put it up there. I’m proud of it. So

Jill: you were talking about going back to Armenia and, and staying there for an extended time and, and visiting gymnastics facilities. What, what’s been the reaction from the gymnasts in Armenia to.

Representation of them.

Houry Gebeshian: I think overall. Overall, they were super excited and thankful that somebody did it and kind of paved the way in Armenia. It is still it’s work. It’s getting better, but it is still a very male dominated society. Um, the expectation is that, you know, you’re not really supposed to do sport.

You’re not supposed to get sweaty. You’re not, you know, you’re, you’re just supposed to do your female, you know? Things and eventually, you know, get married, have children, have a family and kind of move on with your life in that way. Um, so I think it was really inspiring for girls to see that, you know, there are other options.

Sport is a really great way to learn about yourself, to explore the world, to. You know, just opened up tons of doors to, to different opportunities. And that was something that was really important to me when I was making my Olympic push was to make it known that it’s not impossible. You know, age is just the number, your country of origin is just a place.

Um, you know, yes, there’s gonna be obstacles for you to accomplish whatever goals you have set for you, but having a goal and working towards. Is important. Um, no matter how many things you have to overcome. Um, and so I think when I, when I went to Armenia, the girls that I worked with were just at awe of.

Like all of the possibilities that they could have now that I did it. And they saw that it was possible. So that was really great. I, I really, my hope is to continue building, um, women’s gymnastics to, in Armenia to continue building just the culture of athletics and the culture of fitness and the culture of sports, cuz it isn’t necessarily a priority even though healthy living is super important.

And that is my. Hope and dream. And I started it back in 2019 when I took that one visit and my plan and, you know, after my Olympic push, but my plan was to continue going back and continue building, and then COVID happened. So the travels have been put on hold, but that’s the hope and that’s the dream.

And, and I hope that more girls and boys can, can realize. Whatever their dreams are it it’s definitely possible. And it’s, it’s never too late to, to make it happen.

Alison: There are gonna be girls competing at LA 28 from Armenia because of you. Do you, did you have you thought, have you thought of that, that they’re gonna come, they’re gonna come from Armenia to here to compete because you, I really came from here to there.

Houry Gebeshian: Yes, that would be great. Oh my gosh. That would be.

Jill: What else do you got Allison? Uh,

Alison: I just wanted to ask how life is for a

Jill: PA in

Houry Gebeshian: COVID. Oh man. Um, so, so I work in labor and delivery specifically in surgery. So obviously, you know, our world didn’t end, people still needed to deliver a baby in a pandemic. And so I still, you know, went into work every day.

Not really knowing what to expect. So the first couple of months were actually really scary. We, we didn’t have enough personal protective equipment. We didn’t know anything about this virus. How can we get it? Where like, how does it spread? How can we protect ourselves? Um, there were just so many questions about what is going on, however, I knew I still had to show up.

I knew I still had to be there for my patients. So it, it was very interesting the first couple of months and, and pretty scary just because of the unknown, like everybody’s always scared of the unknown. And so that was interesting. Now it’s everything is pretty much routine. Everybody, you know, we wear a mask 24 7, we wear a face shield 24 7, um, or at least goggles when I’m in the operating room, 24 7, you know, tons of hand hygiene, um, lots of restrictions in our hospital to only have healthy [00:35:00] people in the rooms with our laboring patients.

There are only allowed one visitor, you know, all sorts of things. And I think everybody was kind of on edge too. Nobody wants to be a mom that is laboring all that themselves during a pandemic like that is, that was probably the scariest thing for our patients and, and our moms that were coming in, cuz nobody knew could we have their significant other with them?

Could they breastfeed their baby after they delivered? You know, there were just so many unknowns. And as we, you know, every day we learn something new every day, it, it improves, but it’s been, it’s been quite. The adventure. And, and I, you know, I hope soon, which I don’t know, but when soon will be, um, we do get a vaccine or we do figure it out, but we’re just taking it one day at a time until we do.

Are you getting any itch

Alison: to go back for Tokyo?

Houry Gebeshian: Well, every time I do one of these interviews and every time I talk about my, uh, Olympic experience in Rio, I do, I do miss it. Like I said, at the very beginning, anytime I watch watch the routines, I did, you know, I get shows, but I accomplished everything I wanted to.

I invented my skill. I competed at the Olympic games. I had the best experience. Of my life I had, I did the best routines I possibly could. I don’t know what else I could do with this sport. Of course I miss it. Of course I love it, but I think it’s my time to. Inspire and encourage the next generation. And that’s what I’ve really been focusing on.

And like I said before, I’m really hoping that Armenia continues to develop in, in their sport. And like you said, hopefully in 2028, we have some girls from Armenia coming and competing at LA. That would

Jill: be awesome.

Alison: I know, just thinking of that, I’m, I’m like gonna make myself cry,

Jill: but it’s really, it’s, it’s such an honor to be able to be in a position to inspire others and, and be the door that others were for you.

Houry Gebeshian: I hope so. I, I mean, that’s the only thing I can ask for is for people to watch my journey or remember my journey. Catapult themselves from where I’m at and just take it even further and experience even more and have the amazing opportunities that I had moving forward.

Alison: Like you catapult yourself over the low bar,

Music: flip around.

Exactly. I could

Alison: watch that all day. That routine.

Houry Gebeshian: It was so amazing.

Alison: Aw,

Houry Gebeshian: thank

Jill: you. Thank you so much. Hu. You can follow hu on Instagram at Twitter at hurry Gian. And she is also on Facebook at hurry Gian, Armenian gymnast. She has a business helping athletes with college recruiting and that is full out.

recruit.com. So check that out as well. She was delightful. I mean, I could, like you say, we’ll have links to her, uh, competitions from Rio on the show notes because they are so delightful to watch the way she does kiss every apparatus. Was so charming and then hearing the story behind that just, oh, my heart was

Alison: that it was just spontaneous and it was at that moment.

And, but seriously, her move is so beautiful and I love a twist. I just generally like a gymnastics twist. Mm-hmm so with a move, with a twist, I’m like, I’m all for that. I can’t believe no one’s ever done that before.

Jill: I know. And I want more people to do it. Because I wanna hear them say, oh, that’s the Gian.

Because if I had to move named after me, I would want people to replicate it just because, you know, sometimes I would imagine that there are many moves in the code of points that just are there and people don’t do

Alison: right. Well, when we talked to Jake Dalton, he was saying, nobody does. His move because it was so unique to him and the way he approached the bars so that his move probably will just sit in the code of points.

But this I could see definitely coming up. I think this would be great in college gymnastics. Oh yeah. The way the code of points works, mm-hmm I think it will work better in college cuz I think it gets more. The way, college gymnastics scores things.

Jill: Well, I loved it, which would be awesome. I loved talking with her.

It was just, it was fascinating to hear the small country experience or the country that has a small presence at an Olympics, especially with her being the first in her sport. And where Armenia is strong is, is different sports. And now she’s spreading her knowledge onto the young gymnasts of that country.


Alison: like her own little NAD.

Jill: well, [00:40:00] should we check in with our team, speaking

Alison: of little countries,

welcome to shook Stan,

Jill: uh, some sad news from Chelsea memo’s adult gymnastics journey. She hurt her ankle. She was doing, uh, a landing and both of her ankles rolled out and she got, I believe a grade, two sprain on her, right one. And so she’s been. doing just conditioning and, and stuff that you can do to stay fit, but not put weight and pressure on it.

Uh, sadly, she had been invited to a check-in in Indianapolis with, uh, the head coach. Yeah. And she had to miss that. Okay.

Alison: That’s all, it’s just an ankle sprain.

Jill: Yep. She said it’s just a little bump in the road. You have those, I’m doing the right things. I’m gonna be. Come coming back. Don’t worry. Little bump on her ankle.

Yes, exactly. Our artistic swimmer Jacqueline semio was on a McGill university panel talking about cardiac arrests and bystander resuscitation. You can see it on YouTube. We will have a link in the show notes. It also features Dr. Joni Rochette, bronze medal Olympian in figure skating. Who’s a doctor com who is completing her residency in anesthesiology.

And Joni’s gonna Joni talked about the story of her mother’s sudden heart. This is this sounds interesting. Dr.

Alison: Joni Rochette sounds very cool to me.

Jill: It, it does. And I hadn’t realized she had gone on to medical school.

Alison: I know, I love that she was so delightful as a skater, so I’m glad she’s got this whole other.

Amazing career happening.

Jill: Exactly. And we know Jackie, the full of his second life. Right. And Jackie wants to go into medicine. So I’m curious to see what she has to say about this as well. Are weightlifting N GB president Phil Andrews wrote an article for iSport connect.com about sports ability to achieve gender parody.

So we’ll have a link to that in the show notes. He, he argues. There’s no reason why every sport shouldn’t be able to achieve gender parody. So good. Onya Phil from a couple of broads. We got the, we got your back

Alison: who can touch our butts to the ground when we go to lift a weight. I have been trying to do that ever since he told me that.

Oh yeah. And I have failed M Billy .

Jill: Well that’s now we know why the brown is podcasting gymnastics, Mount and not oh, podcasting. Weightlifting. There you go. All right. And if you’ve got a hanking to watch some curling, you can see John Schuster in action. Online. The 2020 season of curling night in America is now online.

It was something that was filmed in 2019 and shown on NBCSN. So if you didn’t get that deep cable station, you can now catch up on John Schuster’s competitions.

Alison: Curling night in America. I loved it. I loved

Jill: that. Cause it would be Friday and like, oh, it’s curling night in America. I don’t know how many people thought it was curling night in America, but you know, at least in my house, it was, uh, let’s move on to some Tokyo, 20, 20 news.

Sadly inside the games is reporting that there are no plans to open the Holland Heineken house at Tokyo 20, 20 next year.

Alison: Right. They had, they had announced that before COVID. Originally. And then when it was postponed, they were reassessing mm-hmm and now it’s really not happening. Right.

Jill: And I would imagine that’s because that pretty much has a reputation as a big party house.

So I’m sure they don’t want to have a lot of crowds there and Heineken flowing, uh, just is not a good mixture with the coronavirus we are learning. And I wanna tell you a little bit about a suggestion that. In this household have for Tokyo 20, 20 organizers. If you happen to be listen. Organizing committee.

So Ben and I were watching a little bit of the European rowing championships this weekend, and it was brand new stuff that was happening really recently and their medal ceremony. So they had, it was in Poland and they had the people come out with the medals on the trays and the native costumes. They set the medals and the little stuffed animals on podiums.

And then they left, the teams came out. and then the team members gave each other, the medals, like one person stepped out and put all the medals on each of the, their teammate’s necks. And then somebody else put a medal on that person’s neck. So it was very social. Oh, that’s

Alison: very sweet, right? Because your team is obviously you’re in your own bubble.

Mm-hmm now, how did they do that with gold, silver, bronze. Were they several feet apart each group or did they do it separat?

Jill: No, they weren’t super far apart. By the time you got a whole team up there, the [00:45:00] podiums were probably six feet apart that the medals were on, but the teams were probably pretty close together, but I have a feeling they’re more insulated together than having some officials from the outside, or whoever’s going to give the medals from the outside would be to them.

And they know they’ve all been tested

Alison: too very right. And you avoid that awkward Chi chat. When the official comes and puts their net. Oh, congratulations. You did a very nice job with that

Jill: or right. Kiss kissed.

Alison: Yeah. Yeah, no kissing, there will be no kissing in Tokyo.

Jill: Right. But I thought that was a really interesting way to have a metal ceremony that was socially distant and yet still, uh, was meaningful.

I think it would be very nice and very touching to have your teammate award. You the.

Alison: but then what would you do for individual sports?

Jill: I would just you’d get it from the box and put it on yourself or maybe, or they give it to each other. You could for each other. Yeah, that would be really cool. That would be cute too.

Nice sportsmanship. Well, we got idea. I like that. Just a thought. We’ll see what happens. Call us Tokyo 2020. We’re here for. All right, let’s move on to a little bit of Paris. 2024 news

inside the games is reported that Paris 2024 has chosen the firms that will build the Olympic media village. They are promising, uh, a garden city for the 21st century. Hopefully, we’ll see that two companies have been selected to build the village it’s in, located in lib. Boje a commune in the Northeastern suburbs of Paris.

It’s about 6.6 miles from the center of Paris. And, uh, what they’re gonna do is have two stages of construction with 700 homes or apartments. I’m sure. Ready in time for the games. And then the remaining 600 are going to be completed after the games are over, which I thought was really fascinating, but this

Alison: is specifically for the media, right?

So this

Jill: is not the athlete’s village, right? So it’s going to accommodate about 2,800 journalists and technicians during the games. And then when the games are done nice. Uh, and they’ve got the second phase built, it’s going to accommodate 1300 families. And they say 20% of the, the housing will be social housing.

That’s interesting. I hope

Alison: it is more like I’m a little concerned about them referring to it as garden city. If you’ve ever been to garden city long island.

Jill: Nope, never have fine.

Alison: It’s a fine town, but I don’t know if it’s very Olympic.

Jill: Mm, I’m guessing. They’re thinking so beautiful gardens everywhere in the, in the village, sort

Alison: of like how Victoria BC is the garden city of Canada.

Very much rather than garden city, long island. Yes. it smell good.

Jill: I hope you don’t have allergies. They will start construction next summer. And it’s due to be finished in March, 2020. And some other Olympic news, the Olympic museum in Sarajevo has reopened. So this I think is I saw this and I started to cry.

Did, oh, I know. It’s so exciting. The museum had been completely destroyed during the, as the Sara O town calls it, the aggression on Bosnia and Harris gona, and the sea just Sarajevo. It’s taken 28 years for this to reopen, which. Incredible. When you think about how destroyed the city was and, and how much they’ve been trying to come back and now they’ve, uh, rebuilt it and it is open to the public again and there to help open the museum was

Alison: prince Albert.

Yes. Always good to have a Royal on hand makes it official. But this, I did read this article and I got a little teared up because I. I remember Sara ABO, obviously it was beautiful Olympics. And then I remember during the war, them showing pictures of the different site stadiums and just, you know, the entire city of course was destroyed and the people really suffered and.

Remembering how much joy that Olympics was and then seeing the destruction was so heartbreaking. So this is such a nice, joyful moment for the city yes. To put, to move on and, and to rebuild and to reclaim some of that history that was lost.

Jill: Yes. And it’ll be nice to have all those memories from 1984 preserved.

And they also feature the 2019 European youth Olympic winter festival, which they also host. So put [00:50:00] that on your list of places to visit when you can travel again,

Alison: I will

Jill: never be home. I know, I know it’s like enjoy your home time while you got it. Cuz you’re not gonna be home after this. I am curious to see how they’re doing with rebuilding some of the other sites, because I know that in, in the articles that come out, every Olympics of the, uh, venues that.

In ruins because you know, the Olympics are horrible and bad. The Bob SL and lose track from Sara Diego vote always shows up in those pitchers because well, and you go, well, which is. it’s like,

Alison: uh, gee, there was a war,

Jill: right? it’s it’s not like wanted, I don’t

Alison: think that’s a legacy problem. Yes

Jill: so, but there is not

Alison: poor planning on their part.

Jill: Right. just a little skirmish that destroyed everything. So I have seen stories where people have been trying to go fix it up again as a place to at least. Do, uh, summertime lose training. I know there’s a lot of destruction, but they might be able to rebuild it. They’ve got a ski jump and everything. It it’ll be interesting to see how they do with bringing back a, a elite, winter sports culture to the, uh, city.

Oh, well, the, the, the youth festival that they had, the Alpine skiing competitions were at the same venue as the 1984 winter Olympics. And they also had hockey at the Xtra Olympic hall. So

Alison: for some stuff, that’s a name I haven’t heard in 40 years.

Music: Just, you said

Alison: it and a little brain cell went. Ooh, I know that ,

Music: that

Houry Gebeshian: was

Jill: weird. Well, that’s gonna wrap it up for this episode. Let us know what movie you would come up with. That could be named after you email us at

Alison: flame alive pod, gmail.com or call our voicemail hotline at two zero eight. Flame it where flame alive pod on Twitter and Insta and keep the flame alive pod group on

Jill: Facebook.

Next week book club, Claire will be back for a discussion of a. History by a Ofra as we go out to music by Archdale. Thank you so much for listening and

Music: to.

I Andre off.

Sometimes you.

You never.

Houry Gebeshian: This is a show and this is entertainment and I, and I wanted everybody to feel part of my journey.