This year’s Olympics has been very special for Armenian nation. For the first time, Armenia had a representative in its women’s gymnastics. Houry Gebeshian, our guest of No Label Business Magazine, had the chance to amaze juries and people by her new invented spin on the uneven bars. She delivered the dream of what many people have been waiting for.
hen did you come up with the idea of participating in the Olympics?
My Olympics pursuits started back in 2010. I never thought I’d compete for Armenia, but the idea got thrown around by mom when I was in high school, and I thought, “no, that’s not possible.” But when I was in college, I thought about it a little more, and my junior year in college, I decided, maybe I should try in the Olympics and compete for Armenia to see if that’s a possibility. So in 2010, my goal was to compete in the 2012 Olympics, that was the path I was going to take. Unfortunately, I got injured and didn’t make it to 2012 games. I quit the sports and decided to come back to gymnastics in 2014 to try for the 2016 Olympics.
ere you the one requesting to participate in the Olympics or someone suggested you?
We have a close family friend. His name Paul Varadyan. He was part of the Armenia’s Olympics committee, and when we met with him, he thought it’d be a great idea to compete for Armenia. He said that we need more females to compete for Armenia, so if I’m willing to do it, they’ll take me. It was kind of a mutual desire, Armenia wanted me and so I wanted to do it.
e know your primary occupation is far from gymnastics. What made you think about taking a step in gymnastics? Any background story?
You’re correct. I pursued a career in medicine. I work as a physician assistant, specifically in surgery and labor and delivery, so that’s what I do for my full-time job. But I always had the feeling that I was missing something. I missed gymnastics, and that hole needed to be filled. I thought I could fill it by going to physician assistant school, providing health care for people, pursuing in medicine, but while I was in school, it wasn’t really cutting it, as I knew something was missing. My fiancé, Duane, is a physician. While I was in school, he encouraged me to go back to gymnastics. He had a similar story like me. When he played a college football he had an injury that cut his dream short. He told me, “Your dreams are not over. You’re capable of doing it. Why don’t you try it again?” It was crazy, because I wanted to start my career in medicine, and I thought, “you know what? I’m going to do both. I’m going to start my career in medicine, I’m going to work full time as a physician assistant. I’m not going to waste any time, and I’m going to train for the Olympics. “
ow did you manage your work and the practices for your performances at the Olympics?
I took a lot of time management, dedication, commitment, and discipline to make it all happen. You only have 24 hours in a day, and you have to make the most of your 24 hours. My job actually worked out perfectly, I applied to the job that I have right now, because of the hours. I worked full time, but I worked only two days a week. I worked 24 hours straight on Sunday, and 16 hours overnight shift on Wednesday. I’d get off from work at 7 AM, took a short 3-hour nap and I got to the gym early afternoon and trained for 4-5 hours. I planned out every single thing I had to do for 2 years. I planned all of my exercise plans, all of my routines, my travel, my diet, my work schedule, my everything. It took a lot of discipline but it was worth it.
oury, your move on the uneven bars that has never been performed before, has made its lifetime mark on the history of women’s gymnastics. How do you feel about that?
My goal was to show the world that Armenia is a force to be reckoned with. We have great athletes, we are a strong nation. My strength is gymnastics, and I wanted to show the world that. So I thought, what can be better than being the first to do it by inventing a skill. My Armenian name is forever in the code of points of gymnastics. I showed what Armenia had, and I’m very happy about it.
e know that your move of spinning 360 degrees from lower bar to the higher one is now officially called “Gebeshian Move” and is added in the code of points of gymnastics. How did you come up with the idea of the move?
It’s really hard to invent a move in gymnastics because all the skills are already made, so you have to be very creative (laughing). I looked in the code of points, I studied it, thinking , “what can I do? What can I do?” I did a very similar mount on the uneven bars, but without the full twist, and I thought I should try to add a twist in here. First of all, I thought about doing a half twist, but that wasn’t working out very well. One of my old coaches and mentors throughout this whole process Linas Gaveika said, “ You know what? Why don’t you just do the full twist?” So I started doing a full twist and it worked much better, so I competed in the Olympics.
hose idea was your leotard design, because it certainly was not left unnoticed by people?
That’s a long story. Initially, if you looked at my pink leotard I had our “Forget Me Not” flower on my sleeve for the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. I had been warned about that flower during my other competitions before. I had a warm up leotard that had the flower, but I wasn’t allowed to do the actual competition with it. So I thought, what else I can do. I actually opened it up to my fans and told them that I want a white leotard with, x, y and z, so send me your ideas. After that, I got hundreds of people sending me their ideas, leotard designs, and one of them was the design that I had in the Olympic games: the landscape of Mount Ararat. That was just perfect, because the Armenians out there will know exactly what this is, and people who don’t, will ask questions, and I can educate them about Armenia. It was an honor for me to wear Mount Ararat on my chest and the flag on my sleeve.
ave you ever been to your motherland Armenia?
I have. I’ve been there twice. It was only for a short period of time, though, one week each time, once in 2010, and once in 2011. When I decided to compete for Armenia, I had to meet the gymnastics federation and the people in Armenia. I also had to get my citizenship, because I was not a citizen yet. I was in college at that time, so, unfortunately, couldn’t spend too much time there, but I’d really, really love to go back to Armenia and experience it, and immerse myself more, whenever I have the opportunity.
ere you born in Armenia?
No, I was born in the United States.
ow can you describe all your thoughts and feelings towards Armenia in 3 words?
Beautiful, historic, inviting.
ell us a little about your roots and how you ended up in the United States.
My parents were culturally Armenian, my grandparents are originally from Armenia. My parents had to emigrate to Lebanon until they moved to the United States. I’ve grown up with Armenian customs, food, and culture. I’m very familiar with all.
“Out of Box”
ow would you title your autobiography?
“Delivering a Dream”. My entire story is one of perseverance and never giving up. I want to inspire people to follow their dreams no matter how crazy the dream sounds, no matter if they are too old, too unfit, too far removed from their passion. Anything is possible and my motto is: it is never too late to deliver a dream. It’s a little bit of a play on words since I help deliver babies for a living too.
hat 3 things would you take to a desert island other than food and water?
I’d take my fiancé, music, and a photo album of my friends and family, and all the people I care about. Oh and my cat that’s been meowing. There will be a picture of him too.
ave you ever stolen a pen from work?
Yes! I stole million times from work (laughing). Pens are one of the things that get dropped off and picked up. So yes, I’ll have to admit, I stole pens from my work.
hy is hot-dog called a hot dog?
I don’t know. I mean, quite literally it’s hot when you eat it, but I’m not sure why it’s dog. Maybe it’s named after those wiener dogs, that look like a hot dog. I have no idea (laughing). I’m not sure which one came first-the hot dog or the wiener dog.
ow would place a camel into a fridge in 3 steps?
I’d first take all the shelving out of the fridge. But the fridge has to be ginormous! Then I’ll have to figure out what the camel likes to eat, and then I push it in there. After that, I’ll have to apologize to the poor camel, that has to fit into that fridge.
We congratulate Houry as she’s also started writing her own book, and considering about making a movie. On a side, she’s trying to create Armenian Women Gymnastic program, and started a gofundme page. Her achievements will still be up in the news and social media for a long time.
You can watch the “Gebeshian Move” again here.
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