"The following is a complete, unedited, unverified interview, portions of which were utilized in the Red Files PBS broadcast. Statements therein are the sole opinion of the interviewee, and do not reflect the views of PBS, DDE or Series and Web Site producer Abamedia, which are not Responsible for the interview content."
Interviewer: What does the phrase physical culture mean in a Soviet context?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Physical culture means, in my point of view, nothing. But in thirties, when we try to build our old system, not only in all society but also in sports, there was a lot of scientific discussions about sports--the new Soviet Republics must build or organize the old system, because sports mean that he wants to be first. Sport mean that he want to win. Sports means that he want to be better than others and it's not very useful for the new ideal system, which we will try to build. And then idea come that we must build our own system, which means physical, well, how we say that mass sports--sport for everybody, because tennis players means he plays alone for himself, yeah, but it must be competition, and so on. Then it was the main idea and we started to organize a test for all people. But for each part of the population--for the school boy, for the students, for them, for those who are in army--and it was a big task. Just try to analyze what kind of tests it must be, exactly, and so on, and so it was a huge task for that which comes from the government to the people who was involved in the sports. And it's why in thirties we organize the Institute of Physical Education, Scientific Institute of Physical Education and also Institute of Physical Education and main task for this Scientific Institute of Physical Education was to study and to maintain to organize these tests. And from those days, physical culture and sports mean that sports is a competitive sports and physical culture means something which belongs to the people, to the mass sports and such kind of things. I know in other languages I think in Germany, they also have such kind as "und sport," also they have such a sentences. But for nowadays we are more and more trying to make it, identification for the human society, so when we are saying "sports" it means not only a big sports, competitive sports, it's also the sports for everybody. But history, it will take in consideration; history comes from those days.
Interviewer: So, growing up here as a boy, what was your father doing here?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: I grow up this very historical and nice place since I was nine till fourteen, practically. Because it was the place where exactly was Institute of Physical Education and my father, he was a famous, well not a famous, but he was also record holder, the Soviet record holder in the discus. And he graduated this institute in Atlantis. He was the first to graduate this institute. And then he, there was a specialist in professional training, methodics of training. So, we lived here in a dormitory, and father works until 1953, when it was not the best time for Soviet period. It was the time when the idea of a cosmo-politz, that progressive people will try to accumulate the Soviet science to what happens in the world, but it was not a popular idea, so in 1954, my father was out from this institute and we move to the Ukraine to the little Ukrainian city, Levoff, where I graduated school and later the Institute of Physical Education, then move back to Moscow, because I continue the studies as a post-graduate student.
Interviewer: Talk about your father and sports.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: It was exactly that he was talking about the sports, trying to say that sports do not have a political border. It doesn't matter where you live, but methodics of how to improve your strength, physical ability. It doesn't influence on the system, because it belongs to the body. So I mean, his idea was not very popular in those days.
Interviewer: Why not?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Why not? Because we try to build our own political system. It calls Soviet System of Physical Education, and one of the examples of this system, by the way.
Interviewer: Did your father suffer for this?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Oh yes. He moved to the Ukrainian and he receive also a good place to work. Also in the Institute of Physical Education and he was head master of the carpenter, and later on also he was a director of the Institute of Physical Education.
Interviewer: And how were you recruited and taken to the national team? How were you spotted in the Ukraine by top coaches who'd been brought to the nationals? How did this system work? You know, how did they find young athletes, from your own perspective?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: The system was simple. The system was that we organize, in those days, as it continues right now. If we survive in a big sports it mean that we survive this system, more or less. It not work, not so strong as it was during the Soviet period of time, but still. In each sports we have sports schools, let's say. Some of them are very professionally, I mean the children's can leave there to learn, study and also to train under protection of the professional coaches. But I begin only just from the ordinary. It was children's youth sport school number two. Belongs to not the sports committees, but belongs to the Minister of Education. Money comes not from the sports committees, but from the educational ministry, which covers the schools. It was the pay money. And it was good coach there. And we train in the club. It wasn't a club, but it was, stadium of--belonged to the, Institute of Physical Education. So and I start training, in this school, where I was not only track and field, but other sports also, swimming, gymnastic and weight lifting, I think, and in those time in Levoff was several very strong and good athletes. Among them was Olympic champion in gymnastics, Victor Chukhiren, and also several very good fencer, who participate in the Olympic games in 1956, and from Levoff. In those period of time, in 1956, Olympic games in Melbourne. It was five or six competitors from this little city, which was, a big good success for the city.
Interviewer: And what was that like for you, going to Melbourne in '56, and just traveling and seeing overseas and coming back?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Oh, you cannot imagine. It was tremendous feelings and tremendous influence of me from all aspect of life, from the sports point of view and also from the civil point of view. Because, don't forget, that in fifties it was a strong Iron Curtain where we live, and just to see Americans, just to see foreigners coming to Soviet Union, although that was exciting--what kind of people they are, and talk to them was, sometimes dangerous. And suddenly we fly from Moscow to Australia a long way, different continents, different system, and first time I saw the American athletes, who was this period of time the best in track and field, and in my event, in long jump, world records belongs to Jessie Owens, and the world record stay more than twenty-five years, and nobody can jump more than eight meter, thirteen centimeters, quarter of a century. It was only one world record which did not break was broken almost twenty-five years. And people start thinking that maybe it's impossible to jump more than eight thirteen. Can you imagine then I grow up under the strong psychological pressure of this results, of this world record. And the first time I saw Igor Ter-Ovanesyan who was the best long jumper at those period of time and Ernst Shelby, and others, and I understand what is the purpose, what is the subject of training in long jump, because we didn't know, what to train. Should we do it weight lifting, or what kind of technique must be in a long jump, such kind of thing. So, it knew was very good, impulse. And I focus already, and when I come back from Melbourne to Levoff, I try train more professionally.
Interviewer: What kind of reaction did you get from your colleagues and your friends when you came back from Australia? How did they view you?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Oh, you can't imagine. They look at me like I came from the other planet. I don't know how many times the people invite me to talk, to listen. Schools and the students, in army, everybody wants to invite us and listen, what our impression was after the Olympic games. We was really from one side national heroes, from other side also people from whom KGB expected some kind of influence, because we come from the free world, say what was our reaction. So I understand that I also must be very careful in this situation.
Interviewer: When did you first meet Ralph Boston? What was your relationship?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Ralph Boston first time I met in 1960, in Olympic games in Rome.
Interviewer: He says the two of you were friends, immediately.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Well, in those days becoming friends, it was not so easy. I tell you. It was not so easy. Of course we understand that there is a kind of sympathy from my side and from his side also. But it was not a friendship from the open heart, let's say. We were friends on the track and maybe somewhere during the training, but I cannot say that we was very open in ordinary life, that we write letters each other, something like this, not at all. He was clever enough to understand that we are peace ambassadors, and he successful played his game, of course. And Ralph and me, we understand that we are the ambassadors of two great people, that historical situation is difficult, and sports is only one thing which bring us all together. So we feels good, let's say, and later on, historically he will take this historical period of time it, our relations we can prolong from 1960 practically up to our days. So it's almost forty years, hey? It's almost forty years. So our relations is a historical relations between our countries let's say. And of course, it very much influenced our relations also, but we were clever enough to build our own relations, which was in those days, they was good and also they good in nowadays.
Interviewer: But why was it hard to be real friends?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: To be a good friends, a real friends, you must be free. You must do what you want to do and in those period of days in the sixties, in each practice and in each competition there was KGB people with us. I remember in 1956 in Melbourne we were at--in all apartments there was a kitchen and separated rooms, and there was a KGB man who lives in each apartments. So we cannot go for a walk, only if we will be five or six together. So then we can go shopping. So, we were very strong under control. And I think it will be too much free, I mean if I will, for example, met Ralph somewhere several times, it can be a case I don't know what to do, but to take me under special control and maybe don't give me permission to go next time to abroad, or something like that. So we were clever enough to know where is those borders and to move inside of these borders.
Interviewer: Did you feel that pressure that you were being watched?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Of course. Of course.
Interviewer: What was that like?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Awful. That's the worst thing that can be in the world I think. Of course.
Interviewer: I take it you broke the record again?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: I broke world record twice. One in Yerivan.
Interviewer: In '60.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: In '62.
Interviewer: Early '62?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Early '62.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: And then in Mexico, in '67.
Interviewer: All right. And then Palo Alto was after you broke the record?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Palo Alto was after I broke my first world record, yes.
Interviewer: Yeah. Then Madison Square Garden?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: And Madison Square Garden also was after.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: I think. It maybe was after?
Interviewer: Yeah that was January '63.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Yeah.
Interviewer: So you and Ralph Boston had a kind of friendship or an understanding. But you were also competitors. He was winning at first. Did you want to beat him?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Oh, strongly. I hate him. I mean, as a hunter who wants to kill, because he wants eat. No it was a world record was a strong motivation for me. Very strong motivation. And it was very strong aim, because it was American event. I don't know, of course, not because I train; because I want to beat the American, no. But these competition which was happily organized by our leaders. I mean this competition between America and the Soviet Union were happily organized. Our coaches who was agreed to do it in 1956 in Melbourne, they understand it will be good to show. And, we start to do it firstly in nineteen fifty-nine I think, in Philadelphia.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Fifty-eight. It was second match, first was in Moscow. But of course, these matches was influence strongly in athletics for both countries. Because, we were strong in throwing events, in the long distance running events, in some technical events and, Americans always was very strong in the sprint, in the long jump, in the high jump, in pole vault, and so when we met together, it was a huge possibility to teach, to understand what is the subject, what is the technique, to talk with them and it was stronger influence for both athletics in our countries. Also personally for me, of course. Because our psychologically the main problem was of course, psychological problem, if I did not jump, for example twenty-eight feet, not because my physical ability was not enough. For example, when I come back from Melbourne, and I ask myself, Igor Ter-Ovanesyan, try to dream, as strong as possible. What is your imagination? How far you think can, what is the limit of the long jump? Is it possible to jump twenty-nine feet, I ask myself, and my answer was no. Absolutely impossible. It's impossible. Never. Because I thought, the world record's eight thirteen, stayed twenty-five years, nobody can beat, how can people jump nine meter? It must be some other body coming from another planet. Well, thirty years passed and practical now world record is twenty-nine feet. Almost nine meter. And I look on these people Mike Powell, Yvonne Predusso, the Cubans the strongest. Are they different people compared to me? Are they much stronger? Are they speed is much faster than my in those days? No. Why, what is it? Why it possible? And it's not an easy answer, of course, because my problem, I think is the psychological problem, of understanding of what to think before the jump. What the moving action to make yourself before the jump. And this understanding for nowadays is absolutely different. I make you just example. Can I stand up?
Interviewer: Yeah, absolutely.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Yeah, because it's important to understand for ordinary people, you know, what is the difference?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Why? And this is, you understand it when I show you, so ask me.
Interviewer: Okay. Now, these meets, you once told me that they had a kind of very strong political element as well. When you were performing, did you feel that there was a political element to the meets? They wereor was that one of your motivations? Did you feel that you had to win for your country?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Oh yes. But it was a little not simple feelings, I tell you. From one side, we understand, of course, a political interest to us, for example when I compete successfully in Madison Square Garden and then when I did the first time the world record, government immediately helps me to give me a good flat in the house that belongs to the central party committee. It was in those period then it was nice big flat, which was give me free practically, and they helped me to buy a car of course. From this side it was interest, but from other side, also the great interest of the people--of the ordinary people--for now they sit up. Absolutely impossible to, when, while in Palo Alto I remember two days. Each days was, I think seventy, eighty thousand people in the stadium, and in Moscow during the matches was also the full stadium practically close to a hundred thousand people come to see track and field. Not because they understand and they like athletics, not at all. Some of them, I don't, I think there's seventy percent of them did not even understand what is a different between steeple chase and running, but because to see rivals, to see the two political animals let's say, struggling, fighting--who will win. We was motivated to win even one point.
Interviewer: Now there is the Cold War, super power rivals. Talk about that.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Yeah, and we really feel huge interest from the ordinary people who just come to see how Russians look likewhat kind of people they are. Can they talk, or what they eat. Or what is their reactions on the ordinary things, or can they laugh. Do they understand humor, or maybe the humor is something different. It was just interest, because their iron almost destroyed us. Sometimes they're psychological of the people, and we were very lucky that in those periods of time sports helps us. It was like experience, you know--we were part, a little part of human society, because we were several times during the year abroad, competing. Of course it was, not time to accumulate with the ordinary life. Because how we train, we come hotel, competition, car, hotel, competition, plane and home. Sometimes we were invited to the ordinary houses, sometimes, for example in Los Angeles we were invited in a Gregory Peck's house. And to be among for example the famous actors in the Beverly Hills. To see those people who was in the cinema, sometimes we saw it, American some film. It was of course a new chance to see new people--to ask why'd they invite us. It was also interesting. Because initiative to, for Gregory Peck, to invite the Russians in his private house, was coming from their side because their son was interesting in athletics. So and we were successful in Madison Square Garden. Brumel won the high jump. I win the Long Jump and it was a shock, even shock for Americans. Because don't forget that it was a period when our rocket was in the Cuba. In nineteen sixty three, it was. We were very close to the war, and I remember the caricature in New York, yeah, somewhere in New York and in newspapers. Everybody was they was right. We expected the Russians rocket from the Cuba. And they will start tomorrow in Madison Square Garden. Brumel, rocket, Lander, Igor, terrorist and the rocket starring, also, and so on, so the comparison was also coming in this direction. You know, war and peace.
Interviewer: And how was it when you, at that Madison Square Garden, you beat Ralph Boston, the Soviet Men's team beat the American track and field team for the first time. What was that like for you?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: For me, oh, I come to athletics, and domination of American athletics was so strong, so it was absolutely impossible to imagine how we can come close for them. And then when we start competing when I met this people when I start talk to them, understand that they are not in the "grats". They are ordinary people, they think as our. So, physiological its makes easier--it helps. And I did not continue to be afraid. So afraidness was the main subject with which do not help me to make a progression. So when afraidness is disappear, then progress is come.
Interviewer: And beating your friend, Ralph Boston, how was that?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Oh, it was one of the best feelings I ever had. And to beat Americans, it was the lucky moment of my life. And to be a world record holder also, especially in the long jump in very American event.
Interviewer: How was Ralph Boston with you?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: I think Ralph was very jealous. He's stronger competitor guy. And I think that his reaction on this was that he was almost immediately wants to make an rival. Immediately. So the reaction was normal. His reaction is my reaction. I would certainly done the same. Continue to fight again.
Interviewer: Did it change your friendship?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Never. Oh never. Well it never has. But yeah, I remember when I first met him in airport when he come to Moscow, I met him by my own car. I met him at the airport and bring him to the hotel. And I look on the mirror and it was an American car from Embassy who was following me, you know, because they was not sure where I bring him. It not only KGB people who's follow us, but also the people from their American Embassy, they also carry the Atlas because, they was not sure what happens to him. So I bring them to the airport, to the hotel, and I give him a sweet. My wife was with me, so my wife give me a sweet. And I bring this sweet and give it to Ralph. And I look in the mirror and Ralph take it, the sweet, but he did not eat the sweets. He just take the sweets and put it in the pocket. Little detail.
Interviewer: Yes, good. Now in nineteen sixty-six you spoke out against the Vietnam war, and as a result you were team captain.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: In which year?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Sixty-six. Yes.
Interviewer: I see. What happened? Were you pressured politically to speak out?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Yes.
Interviewer: Can you tell me what happened?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Yeah. Well it was quite ordinary situation, because we were preparing for the next real match. And we were planning to go to United States for the next competition, and the Vietnam starts and the Politburo make a decision not participate in the competition. But how to organize this? So there was a decisions that the captain of the team must make, a decision to make an officially announcement. Team will come together, we think, and then we take a decision not to go, from the political point of view, because we are against the Vietnamese war. And I was the captain of the team those days. And I had already heard that there was media, and they tried to find me and I escape. It was, they cannot find me practically all day. But it was then already scandal. You know, they really phone and tried, and finally next day they organized a press conference and they tell me, Igor, you have to do this because you understand you're Igor, the captain. You must make a serious announcement.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: What can I do? I come and say that we are against the Vietnamese war. We didn't go.
Interviewer: How did you feel about saying that?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: How I can feel? Badly of course, because they are prepared. They wants to compete and, and it was the main competition for us. There was not the world championship. There was not a grand prix competition. And what this matches was that the competition number one for us. We strongly prepared for this competition, so of course it was big, superior.
Interviewer: And what would have happened to you had you said that you wouldn't?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Of course they did not send me to the prison, then off to camp, not such a decision, but they will find somebody. They would have found somebody to hold this, and so I know.
Interviewer: Did you ever think of defecting?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Show me the defector. I mean yeah, well in nineteen sixties, in Olympic Games in Rome, Dave Sime, and then Brek, pole vaulter, and El Cantelo, the javelin thrower. We were very close, spend several hours together, and they talk to me. They tell me, Igor, you are absolutely normal guy. We feel that you are part of our company, society. How you can live there? Make a proposal. Escape. We organize you a possibility to study somewhere in Los Angeles. And this proposals frightened me to death. From one side, I just tried to imagine a possible this. Study, then the people, and it was, of course, very interesting. I was young, very interesting. From other side, immediately just imagination at what will happens with my relatives--father, sister--how their life will go after, if I will make such a decision? Not because of the--I cannot say that it was strongly political, or demand it. I was, let's say, professional athlete, more or less. Sports for me was main aim. But the possibilities to look in the different windows to the war, I was excited. And I immediately say to myself, no, never. But it was such for discussions. That it was, once.
Interviewer: Do you think the KGB was ever afraid of you defecting?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Always, of course. It why they always send the people, always ask, because the main task was to bring everybody back to the Soviet Union so they was afraid, of course.
Interviewer: Afraid of what?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Afraid if somebody will stay of course. For them, for a professionally for them, main aim was to bring all people back to Soviet Union.
Interviewer: The doctors and the scientists who studied the athletes' movements. We've talked to some of them.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Yes.
Interviewer: We've also talked to some athletes.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Yeah?
Interviewer: They didn't know what they were talking about. Was it of any use to you as an athlete to have all of these scientists and doctors studying your motion, and to suggest anything, because the Government was spending a lot of money researching this.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: A lot.
Interviewer: Was there any benefit to this?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Truly saying for myself in those days, I cannot say that they really helps me, saying Igor your technique must be like this, you must change something. Proposals, yes. But saying that they completely change my understanding in the training or in technique, no. I think they work for the next generations, to keep materials, to analyze it, to understand what the champions are doing, and to bring suggestions to the next generation. In this aspects of course they did a good job. Because they have unique materials in their hands. Because they, who is world record holder? They are unique. They only one. So, each experience of the great Atlas already is very interesting for the public, why he won, how it happens.
Interviewer: Right. In nineteen seventy-two, you entered because it was your last Olympics?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Yes.
Interviewer: Roughly around the same time, there's a big series going on between the Canadian hockey team and the Soviet hockey team.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Hm.
Interviewer: I know you didn't play hockey, but as a Soviet athlete were you aware of this? And how important was this big hockey series to you as a Soviet athlete and to the country.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Yeah, of course Trek is as we say keen over the sports, but hockey and basketball are games. And football, of course much more important and the people who come are much more interesting of what happens in this fields. So in this case what happens in the hockey. It was much more interesting for the public, specially what happens between our amateur players first time met a professional players from United States, and from Canada. It was shock. It was a whole country. Even I remember those days when it was on the TV just looking, this battles. This war. And results each time was we cannot prognose, but it was the time when Canada and also the professional and America, also opened for themselves also the new possibility of the Russian sports and through Russian sports, maybe a society also. I mean it was, of course very much influence. What we are talking about that hockey was emotionally much more stronger because it's game.
Interviewer: That time, perhaps, you felt athletes were very competitive, starting to take drugs and then eventually of course the system getting involved as well. What was that like from the inside?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Ah, I don't think that at our scientific institute of physical education yeah there was a laboratory of belongs to the pharmacology, and as I remember myself, they always works in this direction trying to find the best possibilities for recovering. And I tell you that this laboratory was very strong in sports direction. And they did a lot of very, very good things. It's pity that they did not continue to work in this direction. Because they're now this apparatus, this subjects was nice because there was not a steroids, there was anabolic steroids, but this was a natural product coming from natural research from Siberia, from different part of the Russian neighborhood. And they worked so strongly and I must tell you that they helps us. They vote of very good the polywhite amends and such kind of things. So I looked at modern sports cannot be without helping people to recover after strong professional physical work. If people physically works five, six, seven, eight hours a day, he must receive something which help him to recover. This is a problem and they works in this directions, they helps us a lot. And then of course later on everything will goes to the direction of the forbidden medical correction. But, this is a subject of more discussion. I'm strongly against drugs and I proposal the campaign athletes against drugs. In principal not only athletes against anabolic steroids but athletes against drugs. As a campaign coming from the sport circles helping ordinary people and even those who are taking marijuana, and such kind of things. To look at the sports field to show that in his sport is clean, that we take only natural preparates who helps us to recovering and move in this direction. But in sixty-eight, this problem strongly comes I think from the former Deutsche Democratish, Republic and in ninety sixty-eight, first time we met, in principal, different thing, and those people who we beat easy I remember German shot putter and our girl Shisrova. Shisrova always beat Germans, and suddenly it was a revolution. And we cannot understand what happens. It was like this, you know. And then the war starts. Who? If you have a nuclear weapons and I have only Kulashnikov, gun machine, so how I can beat you. And then it starts growing. And now we are face real problem, which were very difficult to solve, this problem. We spend a huge amount of money against drugs in the amateur athletic federation for example. I'm the council member of amateur athletic federation and we spend more than one million dollar each year, in organizing the anti competitional lobbing tests all over the world. It comes more or less successful. We feel that it's a little bit danger. Athletes afraid, that those will come and take, in Russia, because we disqualify them for two, you know for four years. But these people who produce drugs, it's a big business with a huge amount of money. Circulating all over the world of those people who are sell this products. And they also think what to find something new. You know. So what to be expecting in the future. Difficult to say but this, there's a real big problem. And if he wants to clean our professional sports, we can do in two directions. To say why I must care about your health more than you are doing about yourself. If you want to take it, just a free market. Or to start it from the zero, maybe they'll say that the former world's records which we are sure was stand with the anabolic steroids results maybe say that we are starting a new centures from the zero.
Interviewer: Could you talk about the Soviet Sport System from your own point of view--the pain, family, etc.?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Well, it's a most difficult question. I mean, to find a real answer very difficult because, of course, from one side, a political system which destroy many a good people and good ideas and even in sport, college people, which who can support and say it was good because it was the worst thing. And we make an huge experiment in this direction. And we can say to whole society all over the world, we cannot come back and we cannot go in this direction. It's a wrong direction. There is not true, because we can build on a lie nothing. Everything which you started began a lie, destroyed immediately. It's only the question of time. From other side, when we are talking about the professional organizing, professional training, coming from the government side, from the helps of parliament side, I think the structure which the Soviet system build and in common, it was a good experiment. And I think that we can positively think about what good are in this system, what we can pay in the next century and what we can pay in a last century.
Interviewer: And you're proud to have been a part of it?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Yes, I'm proud because I am sure that I was not divorced example of the system. I'm proud that in those difficult days I was trained enough to keep my soul and my health and my mind. I'm proud that we are sitting here and we are openly talking about things which were never possible to talk in those days, and I'm proud that I was of those who destroyed and who help to change this system.
Interviewer: What I want to ask now is just a few quick things. It's about the different cities that you went to on some of the tours, the meets in the US. You know, impressions of the cities--personal impression of what you saw. San Francisco, what did you think of it?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: (singing) I left my heart in San Francisco. No, really it was nice. I remember the bridge and I remember the climate, I remember the orange juice, I remember the nice girls around and the friends and the humor and sun. That's my impressions.
Interviewer: Los Angeles.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Los Angeles was practically the same.
Interviewer: Disney Land.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Disney Land--when I think of Disney Land, I thought it's speedy but I cannot bring my relatives with me. With no aunt here, not uncles, not children who can be together with me and join the happiness.
Interviewer: New York.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: New York, oh New York, it's something. I was in New York, maybe ten times, maybe more, and I understand only one thing--that in New York, you cannot be alone. Somebody must be with you who knows New York, who can show you New York, because when you're alone coming to the Broadway on a Fifth Avenue, it's just shock and you do not understand nothing. Because you do not feel sure what is behind, what is the people who lives here. It's a shock, because New York is a dramatically polarized city. You can meet a dirty thing if you want to make in New York. And also, I know that there is a lot of very good people who lives in New York, a lot of good museums, a lot of that are there. But it must be somebody who knows very good New York.
Interviewer: Long jumping. What's that like?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Long jumping?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Flying. I tell you, the most pleasant thing is the feelings of flying. I think old people in dreams, when you sleep, sometimes you fly, and this feelings when you fly is one of the pleasantest feelings what we can imagine. So if I plus all my jumps, it maybe will be, I don't know, maybe one minute when I was in the air and it was the happiest moments in my life.
Interviewer: Love lost.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Love. Life was very good example of this. I think of the American, and people nice human being soft, and when I think about him it borns good feelings.
Interviewer: In 1961 you set your first world record.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Mm hm.
Interviewer: This was the record that Jessie Owens had.
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: Mm hm.
Interviewer: What was that like? And yet it wasn't in an international competition; it was in the Ukraine. Did that make any difference?
Igor Ter-Ovanesyan: You know how it happens. It was in a spring time. I was in a camp in Georgia, in the Black Sea, and during the training period of time, I suddenly understand that I'm in a very good shape. Because in the training I jump always over the eight meter, and I know that I, always in the competition jump almost on the thirty centimeters more than in the practice, because of the excited ego there, of the competition system and I immediately called to Moscow, to the federation, asking, I'm in very good shape, I need a competition. Where we have a competition in the Republics, in the Soviet Union, just tell me and bring me tickets and I will go. And they say "Igor Ter-Ovanesyan, in one week there are the competition Javan. So, if you want, we can send you there." I say "Okay, I'm ready." Guts, really, guts helped me, and, of course, when I come to Javan, you cannot imagine. My name is a typical Armenian name. "Ter" means terror. It's my, like boss, like owner of the land, one meaning. Second meanings, it's my grandfather belongs to the church, priests, so doesn't matter. But when I come to Javan, of course, a lot of people knows my name because they are very proud of all Armenians, and it was stadium was full. There were several other great athletes. Also was competition, and I was strongly prepared because I understand that I come not only to compete, I come to beat the world record and for successful. And I was happy, and Armenians was absolutely happy for, because for them, it's mean not only world record. For them, it was Armenia the world record, which means much more than we can imagine. So, they bring me to the countryside. They make it special. They kill their meat, and prepare. It was a celebration and big joy. Yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: Yeah, that's good. Yeah.