From a Millis Gym to a World Championship Competition in Hungary

J.D. O’Gara
Matt Cormier, shown here with his coach, Levon Karakhanyan. Matt was chosen as part of the U.S. team in the junior world championship, and Karakhanyan was chosen to be a coach for the team.
Issue Date: 
July, 2019
Article Body: 

At just 17, he’s been competing for 10 years. Matt Cormier, who moved to New England when he was 8 from Wisconsin. At the end of June, he was headed to compete in the first ever Junior World Gymnastics Championships in Gyor, Hungary from June 27th-30th. Cormier has been training at MEGA (Massachusetts Elite Gymnastics Academy) for the past four years.
“My parents moved me up here to be with Levon,” says Cormier, of his trainer, Levon Karakhanyan, owner of MEGA, who the gymnast believes is the best coach in New England. Karakhanyan was chosen to be one of the coaches to join the U.S. men’s delegation to the junior world championship in Hungary, which accepts gymnasts from 15-17 years old.
“He’ll be talking to everyone from the Soviet Union to Columbia to Brazil,” laughs Matt, “and he produces results. I’ve completely transformed for the last four years.”
“I’m originally from Armenia,” says Coach Karakhanyan. “I was a gymnast growing up, so I’ve competed in pretty high level myself and was on the national team for Armenia. I moved from Armenia to Brazil and spent about four years coaching there, and at the end of 2000 I was invited to come to the U.S. as a coach. Since then, I’ve been in the U.S.” Karakhanyan opened up MEGA in 2016.
Cormier, who travels to the Millis facility from Milton to train for four hours every day except Sunday, says gymnastics “is not only stress reliever, but it’s a way to express myself in a physical way. This is what I am. This is my style aesthetically, and it demonstrates that to other people. It’s all about showing the spectacle. It is called Artistic Gymnastics, after all.”
Cormier, the only gymnast in his family, recently attended nationals in Reno, NV, where he was chosen to be part of the U.S. team. To his surprise, he said, he placed high on all his events, which placed him first overall. “While I had some national success before (placing third last year on floor),” says Matt. “It took me by surprise this year. I competed very well. I hit almost every routine just doing what I knew I could do. I didn’t know I could place so well.”
When asked what gives him this edge, Matt replies that he feels he has drive for the sport.
“When I’m not here, I’m totally bored, or I’m watching videos for gymnastics. All I want to do is improve and improve. Few things in life give me the satisfaction this does. It’s hard to put into words what this sports means to me. I just want to get as far as I can.”
Matt expects that he’ll face some “ridiculous” competition, especially from Japanese and Russian athletes, but, “I think the USA has a shot for the podium,” he says. He’s met and befriended the other U.S. competitors at the training selection camp in May.
“He’s very dedicated, very hard working, and he’s been making steady improvements and getting better, and this year he was able to put a lot of things together and had a very successful national championship and was a national selection for junior world championship.” In fact, two of Karakhanyan’s students made it to the junior world selection camp, Cormier and Ian Lasic, says the coach, with Cormier heading to the world competition as part of a team of three gymnasts, with a fourth as alternate.
“I think it’s going to be a fantastic experience, not only him but all the kids that are going to be part of it. This is the first time they’re doing the junior world championship. It’s really good for gymnasts in general.”
For more information about USA Gymnastics, visit For information about this specific event, visit
For information about MEGA (Massachusetts Elite Gymnastics Academy), visit