Georgian team says it will compete at Games to honour fallen comrade

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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VANCOUVER - Georgian athletes will soldier on at the Vancouver Games in honour of luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, their "fallen comrade" who lost his life in a horrific accident during practice on Friday.
"The loss for the Georgian team is devastating for us, for Georgian athletes, the Georgian delegation and the Georgian people," said Nikolas Rurua, the country's culture and sports minister.
"Our sportsmen and our athletes decided to be loyal to the spirit of the Olympic Games and they will compete and dedicate their performance to their fallen comrade."
Rurua described the 21-year old Kumaritashvili (KOO-mah-ree-tahsh-VEE-lee) as a very promising athlete who had undergone an extremely rigorous qualification process to make it to the Games.
"I'd like to especially stress one point," Rurua said. "Questions were raised about his experience but I'd like to inform you that he was from a place in Georgia with a long snowsports tradition. He was very qualified. He was a very hard worker in this particular field.
"So the insinuations and speculation about his experience seem to be a little bit unfair and misleading."
Rurua said it was Kumaritashvili's first time going down the track.
He added the Georgian delegation expects a thorough investigation into a tragedy that cast a dark shadow over the Olympics just several hours before the beginning of the opening ceremonies.
"There were some questions asked by other athletes (about the track) even before this tragic accident and I hope all these answers about technical details will be studied," he said. "At this point it would be premature for me to jump to any conclusions."
Rurua said Georgian athletes will pay tribute to Kumaritashvili with black armbands and that there is no question of the former Soviet republic sending them home because of the tragedy.
He noted that Russia invaded Georgia during the 2008 Summer Games and that his country's athletes continued their bid for Olympic glory.

Organizations: Vancouver Games

Geographic location: VANCOUVER, Georgia, Russia

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