Two golds, beach volleyball win over Russia delight Georgia(Olympic Round-up)

August 13th, 2008 - 11:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 13 (DPA) Two gold medals and an emotional beach volleyball win over Russian opponents Wednesday at the Beijing Olympics came at the right time to give Georgia some joy in troubled political times. Manuchar Kvirkelia got the first gold in Greco-Roman wrestling and Georgian Olympic joy was complete when Irakli Tsirekidze triumphed in judo an hour later in Beijing.

Earlier in the day, naturalized Andrezza Chagaz and Cristine Santanna also beat a Russian team in three sets in beach volleyball.

Georgia now has the same amount of Beijing golds as its mighty northern neighbour Russia.

“This victory is important for me and Georgia. I would like to dedicate this medal to the people of Georgia,” said Kvirkelia.

“I proved the existence of Georgia in the world with my gold,” he said.

Kvirkelia paraded the floor with his nation’s flag while Tsirekidze clutched a black armband to his heart during the victory ceremony.

Tsirekidze said there was no tension in his semi-final win over Russian Ivan Pershin because “we are friends,” but that the gold was important in these troubled times.

“It means very much for our country because of the conflict. Thank you to my country, thank you to my people,” said Tsirekidze.

Chagaz said she and Santanna - even though not born in the country - wanted to show “that the Georgian people is a fighting people” in their comeback win against Russia.

“This win is dedicated to them,” the Brazilian-born Georgian said.

Chagaz said: “Before we started we got messages of support from Georgia. I felt that the whole country was cheering for us.”

Santanna preferred not to get into politics too much in her comments about the win, although she stressed she really felt that she was representing her adoptive country.

“Two days ago everyone went berserk in the Olympic Village. Some Georgian athletes were crying over the possibility of being pulled out of the Olympic Games. Some very good judokas could not compete because their families are back in Georgia,” Santanna recalled.

“If I had had my family there (in Georgia), I would not have been in a fit state to compete.”

The conflict in the Caucasus erupted Friday, the first war to start on the opening day of Olympic Games despite a United Nations-endorsed Olympic Truce.

Both countries decided to keep their Olympic teams in China and Monday saw a poignant gesture when Natalia Paderina of Russia and Georgia’s Nino Salukvadze hugged and kissed after winning shooting medals.

“The competition was a victory for sport because sport stands for friendship. We have had so many big wars in the 20th century, what we need is peace. That is something politics can learn from sport,” said the 39-year-old Salukvadze.

Paderina said: “I have won many friends through sport. Not only in Russia but in many other countries. We are friends.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said the touching gesture highlighted that Olympic values are still alive.

“What we saw today at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall is a true demonstration of athletes living the Olympic values of friendship and respect. A touching moment,” an IOC spokeswoman, Emmanuelle Moreau, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA).

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