How a dual citizen of the U.S. and Armenia looks to make his mark in Rio

Weightlifter Norik Vardanian is about to achieve his goal of competing on the Olympic team for a second country.

Vardanian represented Armenia, the country of his birth, at the 2012 London Olympic Games, placing 11th. Then, his dual citizenship allowed him to move back to the United States, where he is now a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Vardanian and hundreds of other Olympians in Rio are dual citizens. They have passports in two countries and the legal rights and obligations of both countries.

The Olympic Charter stipulates that athletes must be nationals of the country for which they compete. U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one nationality or another.

Vardanian goes to Rio with some impressive experience. He won the silver medal at the 2015 Pan American Games and set U.S. records for the “snatch and total” in the 94-kilogram division, in which the athlete lifts the barbell from the ground to overhead in one continuous motion.

He said he was drawn into the sport because of his father, Urik Vardanian, who was an Olympic gold medalist and seven-time world champion. “I figured he would be a good guy to talk to,” the son says.

Norik is documenting his Olympic experience on Instagram; you can follow him and fellow weightlifters in Rio from August 6 to 16.

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