At 13, Knarik Margaryan of Armenia is the youngest competitor at the World Junior Championships in Alor Setar. - CHAN BOON KAI/ The Star
ALOR SETAR: In a country where football, boxing, wrestling and chess are huge, Armenia’s Knarik Margaryan chose to play badminton instead.
At 13, Margaryan is the youngest competitor at the World Junior Championships.
It’s her first stab in the mixed team event, having played in the girls’ doubles with Lilit Poghosyan and Zaven Mnatsakanyan in the mixed doubles. Though the youngster has yet to score any wins at the Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium here, she takes it all in her stride.
Margaryan, who is always smiling, has quickly earned the admiration of local media and umpires.
“I chose badminton simply because I like it. I prefer playing singles though,” said Margaryan, bursting into a fit of giggles.
The bashful youngster, who hails from the capital city of Yerevan, giggled at every answer, apparently tickled at the idea of being interviewed. Only able to speak Armenian and Russian, she had to rely on Poghosyan to be her interpreter.
Margaryan, who picked up the sport through a sports programme at her school, said she loves playing in international tournaments. Is it any wonder when she is currently her country’s No. 3 player.
She won the bronze in the girls’ singles event at the European Under-15 Championships in Basel, Switzerland, in February.
Margaryan may be young, but she is not afraid to dream big. In fact, she has set her sights on becoming an Olympic champion, just like her idol Lin Dan of China.
“I really admire Lin Dan. I love his style of play. Hopefully, I can emulate his success and become an Olympic champion too,” said Margaryan, who trains for three hours every day without fail.
Armenia may have had Olympic success in Greco-Roman wrestling, from two-time gold medallist Armen Nazaryan at the 1996 Atlanta Games and 2000 Sydney Games, but who knows, maybe one day Margaryan will bring home another Olympic medal through badminton.