Follow Your Heart: An Interview with Jr. Weightlifting Champion Sona Poghosyan

By: Elvira Meliksetyan, Women’s Resource Center in Armenia

“Follow your heart” – 17-year-old European weightlifting vice champion said to her peers.

August 1-8, 2015, Sweden, Landskrona City hosted the young girls ages 15-17 old girls’ and adolescent weightlifting European championship. It is with pride that Armenia represented 17 athletes; 13 boys and 4 girls to the athletic review.

One Armenian female team showed brilliant results in the Junior European Weightlifting Championship. Of the four participants, two brought home gold medals and one brought silver. A 13-year-old athlete ranked 4th place, and Armenian weightlifters achieved unprecedented success in the tournament overall by winning 14 gold, 11 silver and 4 bronze medals.

As women we are proud to have such physically strong and spiritually resilient young women who serve as an example not only for teenage girls, but also for our whole society.

Elvira Meliksetyan of the Women’s Resource Center had the opportunity to host and interview Sona Poghosyan, 17-year old weightlifter. We spoke to her about her impressive achievement in the competition.

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Below is a summary of the interview. 

Question: Welcome Sona, let me congratulate you on behalf of our team on your achievements. Can you tell us how long you have been weightlifting?

{Poghosyan}:Thank you. I started my weightlifting journey 4 years ago. 

Question: Can you briefly describe the competition?

{Poghosyan}: It was the under-15 and under-17 European Weightlifting Championships. I participate in both U15 and U17. The competition was held in Sweden. This year we had great success, as both our girls’ team and boys’ team came home with great results.  

Question: We are very happy with your results. So, why did you choose weightlifting?

{Poghosyan}: Since my childhood I was interested in sports, and wanted to practice something professionally. One of my friends was my coach’s sister, and she advised me to go to weightlifting. I went to the gym, had some practice and liked it a lot. That’s how my journey began. 

Question: How did your family react to your decision?

{Poghosyan}: All were strongly opposed to my decision and at first I was not allowed to continue practicing, but I managed to overcome it. They said that it’s a hard sport, it’s not for a girl and it’s better for me to choose something easier, but I managed to continue and advance and now I’m very happy about it.  

Question: Have you had any obstacles during all these years of practicing weightlifting?

{Poghosyan}: This sport is full of difficulties and we overcome them with our coaches’ help. 

Question: What gives you strength and motivation for continuing this difficult journey?

{Poghosyan}: If we choose this sport, we want to achieve success. I had enough success during these 4 years and of course I want to have some success in senior competitions. Now we are preparing for the youth weightlifting championship, which is more difficult and we hope to have success there as well. 

Question: Can you tell us more about your achievements?

{Poghosyan}: My first competition was when I was 15 years old, where I ranked second. During the next competition I ranked 4th, that also was the Junior European Weightlifting Championships. And this time I ranked 2nd because my opponent was very strong, I had no chances.  

Question: Before meeting you I talked to several friends about you, I asked what they would want to ask you. And the most interesting question that arose was the following: “What do you think or feel when the moment to raise the weight comes? What gives you strength?”

{Poghosyan}: We have one or two competitions in a year, and all our trainings depend on that last moment: “if you don’t raise the weight, it’s bad”. 

Question: And what does your inner voice say in that moment?

{Poghosyan}: “You’ve been training so much during the whole year and you must do your best in the competition.” 

Question: If not weightlifting, then what?

{Poghosyan}: I don’t think about it, what I would choose if not weightlifting. In any case I would practice some other sports.

Question: What do you dream of?

{Poghosyan}: In sports… I want to become an Olympic medalist. 

Question: What is rest for you? How do you relax?

{Poghosyan}: Doing an activity that doesn’t tire you out. For instance, reading a book. 

Question: Good… what was the last book you read?

{Poghosyan}: Henri Verneuil’s “Mayrig”.

Question: Great! If you had a chance to change something in the world, what would you change?

{Poghosyan}: I wouldn’t change anything. 

Question: How do you imagine yourself in 20 years? What would you do, for example?

{Poghosyan}: I don’t want to quit sports; I would like to be a coach after finishing my career. So, in 20 years I would be a coach. 

Question: Where does the woman’s power come from in your opinion?

{Poghosyan}: From her inner voice. A woman must feel that she is strong and shouldn’t give up in any situation. 

Question: Did you have difficulties as a woman in such hard sports?

{Poghosyan}: For boys it’s easier to be in this sport. Women meet so many obstacles. 

Question: Like what?

{Poghosyan}: For example if a man gets married he can continue practicing weightlifting. But for a woman it’s not so easy, after having a baby she must start from the beginning. 

Question: Do your friends and family help you in your journey? Do you still have struggles with them?

{Poghosyan}: Now, they are ok with it. But they are still saying that I shouldn’t have chosen weightlifting. 

Question: And what motivates you to continue your struggle?

{Poghosyan}: Great desire to have success in senior competitions, because junior is not so interesting now; everything starts in senior competitions.

Question: Can you tell us what is on your schedule for the near future?

{Poghosyan}: We are preparing for the European Youth Weightlifting Championship. We have trainings in September in Abovyan. We’re hoping to get rankings for the Olympics. Probably both of us, me and Arpine, will go. We are juniors, but the adults need our help.

Question: If you had an opportunity to say something to your peers, what would you say?

{Poghosyan}: I would say to our girls not to listen to anyone, and to follow their hearts.

AIWA-SF has been a long time supporter of the Women’s Resource Center in Armenia.  We wish the athletes the best of lunch in their championships and hope they will realize their dream or being at the Olympics.

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To learn more about AIWA, please visit www.aiwainternational.org.  To get involved with the AIWA SF affiliate, please visit www.aiwasanfrancisco.com or send an email to aiwasanfrancisco@gmail.com.

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