MARQUETTE - A 2004 Olympic gold medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling is visiting the U.S. Olympic Education Center in Marquette through Dec. 14.
A two-time world champion, Mkkhitar Manukyan - who competed for Kazakhstan in the 66-kilogram weight class - will serve as a guest coach during his stay.
Manukyan has been lifelong friends with USOEC assistant coach Aghasi Manukyan. He's in town to visit his friend and give the USOEC athletes some pointers on international styles of wrestling.
Currently a coach on the national team staff for Kazakhstan, Mkkhitar Manukyan has been impressed with what he has seen at NMU.
"The team trains hard and has the ability to go far in wrestling," Manukyan said. "I'm enjoying the area and the training facilities here, and hope to return."
USOEC wrestlers will attend seven international competitions next semester. Coach Rob Hermann welcomed the visit to help prepare his team for those events.
"Any time we can get a coach with his experience in the wrestling room, it benefits the program," Herman said. "It's good for the athletes to wrestle with - and learn - from someone with his expertise."
Resident athlete Christopher Gonzales of Sauk Village, Ill., is also happy to have the guest coach.
"It gives me as an athlete a better look at international styles of wrestling," Gonzales said. "Their styles are different than ours.
"The more we experience it, the better off we are when it comes to international competitions."
Manukyan will wrap up his stay in the U.S. after participating in a combined USOEC and USA Wrestling national team camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., in January.