Armenian Arutyunyan heckled as misses wrestling gold

By Tom Hayward BAKU (Reuters) - Armenian Migran Arutyunyan failed to win his nation's first European Games gold medal, losing in the final of the men’s 66kg Greco-Roman wrestling, much to the delight of a vociferous Azeri crowd on Sunday. Silver medallist Arutyunyan was subjected to a hostile reception from home spectators who chanted ‘Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan’ and cheered wildly for his Russian opponent and gold medallist Artem Surkov throughout an electric bout. Relations between neighbours Azerbaijan and Armenia have been stretched for decades due to a war and disputes over the Nagorno-Karabakh region following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Arutyunyan’s compatriot Maksim Manukyan also fell short in the bronze medal bout for the men’s 85kg event, losing in another highly-charged affair against Turkey’s Metehan Basar. Both Arutyunyan and Manukyan had enraged the crowd earlier by beating home favourites on their way to the latter stages before quickly disappearing into the safety of the changing rooms to escape the cacophony of noise. "It is clear the judges were influenced by the public," Arutyunyan told reporters. "No matter, it is what I expected before I came here. It was very difficult for me to focus with all the pressure that was on me. "However, it is very important for my country that we are here, each victory (in the preceding rounds) was important and an enormous amount is expected of us back home." Around 30,000 people were killed during the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and though a ceasefire was called in 1994, fighting has broken out sporadically since. On Saturday, Games chief Simon Clegg told reporters the events organisers were aware that anti-Armenian feeling would run high but said they were well prepared for any eventuality. Armenian athletes had been loudly booed and jeered during the opening ceremony of the inaugural European Games in Baku, which run from June 12 to June 28. (Editing by Mark Meadows;; +44 20 7542 7933; Reuters Messaging:;