Olympic medalists call for peace

Russian and Georgian medal winners join hands to call for halt to fighting.

    Russia's Paderina and Georgia's Salukvadze embraced on the podium [GALLO/GETTY]

    After the medal ceremony, Salukvadze put her arm around Paderina and the two posed together for photographs. Paderina than gave Salukvadze a kiss on the cheek.

    "This medal is good for Georgia, especially during times like this," said Salukvadze who has known Paderina since their early days in competition.

    "When it comes to sport, we will always remain friends and nothing will come between our friendship," she added.
     
    "If the world were to draw any lessons from what we do, there wouldn't be any wars. We live in the 21st century after all and we shouldn't stoop so low as to wage wars."

    Conflict

    Georgian officials had earlier considered pulling their 35-member Olympic team from Beijing, but decided instead to keep them at the games.

    On Saturday Russia sent hundreds of tanks and troops into the separatist province of South Ossetia and bombed Georgian towns in a major escalation of the conflict after Georgia launched a major offensive Friday to retake control of the province.

    With athletes distracted by the conflict, Georgian Luba Golovina, an 18-year-old who competes in the gymnastics trampoline event, said the idea of pulling out of the Olympics had been seriously considered.

    "We almost went yesterday, but we stay," she said. "It's very difficult for us but we stay here."

    But Golovina added there should be no difficulties while competing with the Russians.

    "I think it's not a problem with sportsmen. It's politics," she said.

    "Sports and politics are different. For sportsmen, it should not be a problem."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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