Remembering a Gymnastic Rings Icon: The Legacy of Albert Azaryan

albert azaryan

Albert Azaryan's career on the gymnastic rings is nothing short of legendary, a dazzling display of strength, precision, and artistic finesse that has left an indelible mark on the world of gymnastics. From the moment he first swung onto the scene, Azaryan captivated audiences and fellow athletes alike with his unparalleled mastery of the rings.

His Journey

Azaryan's journey in gymnastics reads like a script from a blockbuster movie, filled with triumphs and records that have etched his name into the annals of sporting greatness. 

Azaryan was born on 11 February 1929  and tragedy struck this life early, when his father passed away when he was only 14. To support this family, Azaryan decided to then leave school and work as an ironsmith.

However when he was 17, his natural talent begun to emerge. Following a performance in his local town from a travelling team Armenian gymnasts, Azaryan decided to try and imitate the moves he had just seen. 

His talent caught the eye of the gymnasts and not before too long he left his local town to begin training with them to hone his talents. After as little as three years, he became the Armenian champion on rings!

His Achievements

He achieved numerous awards and accolades throughout his illustrious career. While it's challenging to provide an exhaustive list, here are some of his notable awards and achievements:

1953 USSR Championships:

  • Introduced the groundbreaking Azaryan Cross on the still rings.

1954 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships (Rome):

  • Gold Medal in the rings.

1956 Melbourne Olympics:

  • Gold Medal in the rings.
  • Silver Medal in the team competition.

1960 Rome Olympics:

  • Gold Medal in the rings.
  • Silver Medal in the team competition.

1964 Tokyo Olympics:

  • Bronze Medal in the rings.

1954, 1956, 1960, and 1962 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships:

  • Multiple gold medals in the rings.

Recipient of the Master of Sport of the USSR title:

  • Awarded in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the sport of gymnastics.

Honored Master of Sports of the USSR:

  • A prestigious title acknowledging Azaryan's exceptional achievements in gymnastics.


Albert Azaryan

During the 1953 USSR Championships, the Armenian team had the feeling that their gymnasts were not being scored fairly by the sitting Russian judges.

So, naturally they decided to question them, from which they were told it was due to them not holding their static holds for the required amount of time. This infuriated the team, including Azaryan, as it was total non-sense. 

To prove a point to the judges in his final routine, Azaryan slowly lowered himself into the iron cross position (one of the hardest hold in gymnastic rings), stopped, held it, and proudly turned to face the judges and open ask 'Is this long enough?'. 

He did this not once, but twice, as there were more judges on the other side of stage. Unfortunatley, this played right into the Russian judges hands, as athletes were not allowed to speak during their routines, and given an even lower score! 

But his act of defiance was not in vain, as the performance of looking side-to-side whilst performing the iron cross became his own skill called 'The Azaryan'. 

His Legacy

Albert Azaryan's impact extended beyond specific competitions and medals. His innovative contributions to gymnastics, particularly the introduction of the Azaryan Cross, revolutionized the sport and inspired future generations of gymnasts. While these achievements highlight his competitive success, Azaryan's lasting legacy lies in his role as a trailblazer who pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible on the gymnastic rings.

One lesser-known aspect of Albert Azaryan's life is his involvement in coaching and his dedication to passing on his knowledge to the next generation of gymnasts.

After retiring from competitive gymnastics, Azaryan transitioned into coaching, sharing his expertise and passion for the sport with aspiring athletes. His coaching contributions helped shape the development of Armenian gymnastics, and he played a pivotal role in nurturing young talents. 

Albert Azaryan

As we celebrate Albert Azaryan's extraordinary career on the gymnastic rings, we pay homage to a true trailblazer, a maestro whose contributions transcend the confines of competition. 

Albert Azaryan, the undisputed king of the rings, forever etched in the golden annals of gymnastic history passed away on 5th September 2023 and is survived by his three children and his wife.