Gebeshian Gearing Up for Smooth Worlds Debut
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Born in Massachusetts and training in Iowa, 22-year-old Houry Gebeshian told IG she is eagerly making final adjustments for her international debut for Armenia at next month's world championships in Tokyo.

Armenian-American Houry Gebeshian on floor for the University of Iowa

"I think mentally preparing myself has been the toughest thing, because I don't really know what to expect," she said.

Gebeshian's journey to Tokyo has been long, multi-cultural and unusual. Both sets of her grandparents were born in Armenia, and she speaks Armenian fluently. Born in Waltham, Mass., Gebeshian trained as an age-group gymnast at Massachusetts Gymnastics Center under coaches Patrick Palmer, China native Shixin Mao, and Dr. Joe Massimo.

From 2008-2011 Gebeshian competed for the University of Iowa under coaches Larissa Lowing Libby and Linas Gaveika. Libby represented Canada at the 1988 Olympic Games and finished 18th all-around at the 1989 worlds. Gaveika, who competed for Lithuania at six world championships, won the 2003 NCAA title on high bar while competing for the University of Iowa.

Gebeshian said she was inspired to compete for Armenia during a family dinner last year at which one of her father's good friends — a liaison of the Armenian Olympic Committee — was a guest.

"He brought up the idea of representing Armenia in some international competitions, in order to increase the number of female Armenian participants," Gebeshian said. "This was a once- in-a-lifetime opportunity that I was not just going to let go to waste, so I thought I'd continue training and give it a try."

Gebeshian credits Libby and Gaveika for volunteering to devote extra hours coaching her individually since the end of the NCAA season in April. She also acknowledges generous financial support from her family in working toward Tokyo.

"I spent the summer training hard, sticking to Linas's strength program and weekly schedules," Gebeshian said. "Financially, my family has supported me 100 percent by paying for my trips to Armenia, registration for worlds or even paying for the Armenian coach to come to the world championships."

Gebeshian, who will be the lone Armenian female gymnast in Tokyo and will be accompanied by Gaveika, said she expects her experience to be as fulfilling as it is new.

"I have never competing under the FIG (International Gymnastics Federation) code or competed in a competition of this magnitude," she told IG. "But as long as I do the gymnastics I know how to do, everything will go smoothly. "

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