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From Iowa to Armenia: senior gymnast to compete in worlds

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | JANUARY 18, 2011 7:10 AM

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Before Hawkeye gymnast Houry Gebeshian performs an event, she stands motionless on the edge of the mat, her arms stiff at her sides, taking one last deep breath. It is a final moment of calm and confidence before she begins. After that last moment, she is relentless, attacking the equipment with intensity and determination to be the best.

This is the Gebeshian of Iowa women’s gymnastics; in October it will be the Gebeshian of the 2011 World Gymnastics Championships.

Gebeshian will compete for Armenia, the birthplace of her grandparents, and in doing so, she will extend her career outside the bounds of collegiate gymnasts and into the elite.

Over winter break, she traveled to Armenia to meet with the squad’s coaches.

“They had some things that they think I need to work on, but they really are excited to have me there,” Gebeshian said.

Elite gymnastics is structured differently from collegiate gymnastics, and Gebeshian will need to make small adjustments to her routines and add elements in order to compete for Armenia. The equipment is even different outside the United States, with different heights and settings of each apparatus.

Despite the World Championships and Armenia dangling right in front of her, Gebeshian is completely focused on her final college season. She has goals to place well at the Big Ten championships as well at to compete at the NCAA championships, and in order to achieve these goals, she must remain concentrated on her college career.

“She’s doing some of the best gymnastics of her life right now,” Iowa head coach Larissa Libby said. “She’s not looking too far ahead right now, just trying to keep her goals in view for collegiate gymnastics. Once she meets those, then she’ll work on the world championships.”

After the season and the school year are finished, Gebeshian will travel to Armenia to train until the competition in October. She’ll work on adjusting her routines and training with the Armenian coaches but potentially without teammates.

There are two other women who compete for Armenia at the same level as Gebeshian, but they are financially unable to compete in the world competition. In hopes of having a team to compete with, Gebeshian is helping start fundraising.

While she hopes to support her Armenian teammates, she is receiving unwavering support from her coaches and teammates in Iowa.

“I’m so proud of [Houry] that she has something she’s willing to go after,” said senior teammate Rebecca Simbhudas, who has represented Canada at the World Championships twice before.

“Worlds is such an amazing opportunity and experience, so I know she’ll love it. It will change her life.”


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