The explosion threw Sargis Stepanyan’s body up into the air and dragged his spirit down to the ground. When the then 31-year-old army major regained consciousness in a Yerevan military hospital, he could tell his legs and right arm were gone.
In the summer of 2014, Stepanyan was gingerly walking through a field to reach a colleague injured by a landmine in the buffer zone between Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces when he stepped on a mine himself. A professional soldier and passionate athlete, he struggled to come to terms with his new body and his new identity. He no longer was a totally self-reliant action-man, but a person with limited physical abilities who had to readjust to pretty much everything.
Now a civil servant in Armenia’s defense ministry, Stepanyan has found a new life representing Armenia in international para-armwrestling competitions, winning category-specific titles from the 2018 European Para-Armwrestling Championship and in the 2017 Armwrestling World Cup for the Disabled.