Cypriot children to compete in Moscow

B-year-old Xenia Yassoumi. Can she ba the Cumaneci of Cyprus one day? Alexis’ Thoma on the parallel bars. Es Moscow _ Two Cypriot children will compete in gymnas- tics in the Moscow Olympics next year. and here to train them is Bashig Avakian, an Armenian gymnast on loan to Cyprus under a cultural exchange agree- ment with the Soviet Union. _ This weekend a group of Cypriot gymnasts - children and teenagers -- are to take partina frien- diy contest against a similar team from Greece. Avakian first came to Cyprus last year when the government asked the Soviets to provide a trainer. He came over for one month. This year, the Cypriot authorities asked for him personally and arrange- ments are being made for him to stay twa months in- stead of one as originally planned. His youngest pupil, Xenia Yassoumi is oni 8 and Avakian says: She has a great future ahead of her if she keeps it up. She has a natural talent for it and is very quick to get the message”. Bashig Ava klan of Yerevan, Armenian SSA, trainer of the Cyprus Olympic Gymnastics team with his pupils. Gatling the message is quite an achievement in itself i as the pupils have na common language with their trainer. They speak Greek and some of them understand English, but Avakian speaks only his native Armenian and Rus- sian. So it is all in sign lanquage-gestures, the expression on his face, a little tap here, a push there, and the inevwi- table helping hand always ready to catch a child jumping off the cross-bars, or doing a somersault. When signs and gestures are not enough. Avakian demonstrates aver and over again what he wants his pu- pils ta do, and sometimes, but very rarely, he does come up with the odd word in Russian or-in Armenian. Most are first-year pupils but he hopes that two of his earlier ones, Christina Makariou, 11, and Marina Mara- thoveuniotou, 15, will do quite well in Moscow, “At least people here and abroad will be ableto see how easily Cyp- riot children can adapt”, Avakian says. Fantastic experience He has no illusions of his team coming back with medals. “But they will take part in the games and that will be fantastic for them. They will see what others candoand will also gel the sporting spirit. In other words they will learn to compete and appreciate”. In the background, a dozen children jumped, bal- anced on bars, experimented in free and spontaneous ex- pressions with the movements of their arms, legs and bodies. Suddenly, Avakian claps his hands and goes over to one of the children ta show what he or she had done wrong and demonstrate how toda it. “He does not miss anything”, said one of the parents who had come to pick up his daughter. “You may be talk- ing ta him - in our special sign language of course- but his eyes are all over the place, He can spot the slightest mis- take” Cypriot children to compete in _ Kyprianou, 11, shows grace and concentration on the ars. Christina Makariou, 11, ls the younger of two Cyprus entrants at: the 1980 Moscow Olympic Gymnastics. Marina Marathovouniotow, 15, Is the elder Cyprict contestant at the Moscow Olympic Gymnastics contest in 1980.