The Central Bank of Armenia has released new silver Proof-quality collector coins, which mark the occasion of the centenary anniversary of the birth of their first Olympian, Hrant Shahinyan (1923-1996). He was a prominent Armenian gymnast, the first Armenian champion of the modern-day Olympic Games, a double gold and double silver medallist (Helsinki, 1952), a double gold prize-winner of the World Championship (Rome, 1954), a seven-time and absolute champion of the USSR, an Honoured Master of Sports of the USSR (1951), an Honoured Coach of the Armenian SSR (1961), and an Honoured Activist of Physical Culture and Sports of the Armenian SSR (1966).
Hrant Shahinyan was born on the 30th July 1923 in the village of Gyulagarak, in present-day Lori region, Republic of Armenia. In 1930, his family moved to Yerevan, Armenia’s capital in 1930, where he started attending a gymnastics class. In 1939, he won the title of the USSR’s absolute champion among juniors. In the early days of the Second World War, he voluntarily left for the frontline, and although his leg was injured during battle, he was able to resume gymnastics in 1946. Shahinyan’s exceptional talent was truly emerging when he achieved his first serious success at the World Festival of Youth and Students in Budapest in 1949, winning six gold medals during the competition. According to the decision of the International Gymnastics Federation, one of the first exercises performed by Shahinyan on the pommel horse was renamed “Shahinyan’s twist” due to his exceptional performance in demonstrating the move. It was during the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki when Shahinyan distinguished himself as Armenia’s first Olympic champion when he won two gold and two silver medals during the competition. Shahinyan specialised in the still rings and scored higher than the rest of the competitors to win the gold medal of the event, becoming the Olympic Champion in rings and winning Armenia’s first Olympic medal ever. Afterwards, Shahinyan competed in the Individual All-Around, where he won the silver medal.
After finishing his sports career, Shahinyan turned his attention to coaching. From 1958 to 1996, he served as Director of the Specialised Sports School for Young Gymnasts under the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Armenia. During this time, from 1967 to 1969, Shahinyan was Chairman of the Sports Committee of the Armenian SSR. In 1975, Shahinyan arrived in Damascus to manage the Syrian gymnastics national team for almost five years until 1980, when he returned to Yerevan. The legendary sportsman earned many awards for his services to the former USSR and Armenia after the country’s independence in 1991. Shahinyan is remembered today for his exceptional sports achievements. During his lifetime, he was awarded the “For Fair Play” accolade by the International Olympic Committee in 1994. Posthumously, in 2005, the National Olympic Committee of Armenia introduced the Hrant Shahinyan medal, which is awarded to Armenian athletes and recognises outstanding achievement.
The Proof silver commemorative coins are produced by the Mint of Poland at their facilities in Warsaw, on behalf of the Central Bank of Armenia, and are designed by Eduard Kurghinyan (reverse) and Lusine Lalayan (obverse). The obverse side depicts a three-quarter facing portrait of Hrant Shahinyan, which is inspired by a photograph taken after the Helsinki Olympic Games. The same image was also the focus for a life-size statue of Hrant Shahinyan created by the sculptor Gerasim Shahverdyan in 2014 and which is placed in front of the Hrant Shahinyan Olympic Children’s and Youth Sports School of Gymnastics in Yerevan. To the right of Shahinyan’s likeness is the commemorative inscription in both Armenian and English text ՀՐԱՆՏ ՇԱՀԻՆՅԱՆ HRANT SHAHINYAN 1923 – 1996, along with the centenary logo 100 ԱՄՅԱԿ (“100 years”) featuring a representation of both the Olympic and gymnastic rings. The reverse side includes three stylised images of Hrant Shahinyan performing exercises on gymnastic rings, a balance beam, and a pommel horse. The commemorative text includes references to Shahinyan’s participation at various world competitions such as ՀԵԼՍԻՆԿԻ 1952 (“Helsinki”) and ՀՌՈՄ 1954 (“Rome”), along with the country shown both in Armenian and English text ՀԱՅԱՍՏԱՆԻ ՀԱՆՐԱՊԵՏՈՒԹՅՈՒՆ and REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA. The year of issue, 2023, and denomination 1000 դրամ·dram is also shown towards the lower right.
|33.6 g||40 mm||Proof||
Each coin is encapsulated and presented in a branded Central Bank of Armenia custom case accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Collectors residing in Armenia can buy coins directly from the “Dramaget” sales counter, which is located in the Central Bank’s head office at 3 Deghatan Street, Yerevan. For additional information, please click here.