Armenian sports legend Shavarsh Karapetyan has been appointed Adviser to the Head of the Republic of Bashkortosta Radiy Khabirov, Bashinform reports.
Karapetyan will work on voluntary basis and will advise Radiy Khabirov on issues of development of physical education and sports in the region.
Born in Armenia’s third largest city of Kirovakan (now Vanadzor), Shavarsh Karapetyan moved to Yerevan with the family in 1964. He started swimming at a young age, and later switched to finswimming.
Karapetyan is a Merited Master of Sports of the USSR and a ten-time World Record-breaker in finswimming.
He became well known across Armenia and the former Soviet Union after rescuing 20 people from drowning in 1976, which cost the world champion in his health and further achievements in a brilliant athletic career.
As a trolleybus entered a bridge in central Yerevan, the trolleybus veered off course and rolled downhill into a water reservoir, known as Yerevan Lake. The noise of the crash drew the attention of athletes practicing nearby, 23-year-old finswimming champion Shavarash Karapetyan among them.
Without giving it much thought, Shavarsh jumped into the water, ordering his brother Kamo, another swimming champion, to help him from the shore.
Savarsh pulled 37 people out of the lake, and nine others escaped on their own through the broken window. The rescue operation was set up in a matter of minutes. Doctors who arrived from a nearby hospital treated the victims right on the shore. Unfortunately, only 20 of those Shavarsh rescued could be saved.
Karapetyan was hospitalized along with victims of the accident. Septic fever, double-sided pneumonia and nervous prostration had doctors fighting for his life for over a month. When he was finally discharged, Shavarsh went right back to practice, but swimming underwater echoed painfully in his lungs. Yet the athlete refused to retire without one more medal.
During the next championship he swam in a haze as his brother Kamo ran along the pool, ready to jump in should Shavarsh suddenly lose consciousness. But Shavarsh came in first and set another world record, without realizing it at the time.