Georgia in the Olympics
02 August, 2012
Georgia in the Olympics

here was a bulky brochure, titled ‘From Georgia to London’ (Compiled and designed by Paata Natsvlishvili, Executive Producer Emzar Zenaishvili) out in Georgia right before the country’s Olympic team’s departure to London – a pictorial history of Georgia’s participation in the Olympic Games since 1952, although until re-obtaining national independence in early nineties of the last century, the Georgian athletes could participate in the Games only as the members of the USSR team, not in any other manner.

It happened for

this particular reason that the Georgian athletes had lost their chance to take part in the Olympics when the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Games due to its cantankerous relations within the family of nations and kinky Soviet politics. It is now for the fifth time that the independent Georgia’s athletes represent their country in the Olympic competition, this time at the thirtieth Summer Olympic Games in London. Sport has a long history in Georgia. In ancient times, sporting contests were so popular that even the female contestants were allowed in the competition which was unheard of for those severely patriarchal times. Back then, the athletes of Georgia traveled quite far away from their motherland to compete with Asia Minor and Greece. 35 young men and women from Georgia, lead by the president of the Georgian National Olympic Committee Gia Natsvlishvili, are defending in London today the good sporting name of their motherland. One of them, the twenty-year old Judo wrestler from Gori Lasha Shavdatuashvili, 66 kilos, won the Olympic Gold Medal the third day into the Games. The meaning of Lasha’s success could be best described using the words of the president of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge who fairly emphasizes in the introduction to the brochure that those athletes are the role models, an example for young people to follow in sport and in life. They therefore have to share the best of themselves by competing in the spirit of Olympic values of excellence, friendship and excellence. Shavdatuashvili had truly fought with excellence, having defeated his strong counterparts from Great Britain, Japan and Rumania. Watching him on the pad, fighting with confidence and balanced disposition was a huge pleasure and a matter of emotional pride for the entire Georgian nation. How many nations out of 204 participating countries will after all win a gold medal? Maybe forty in the best case scenario – not even that many. Georgia, as small a country as it is, has excelled in the Olympics in a totally amazing way. In the 1952 Helsinki Olympiad for example, out of the 10 members of the Georgian athletes of the Soviet team, 9 had won medals – 4 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze. Just outstanding! In the following Games in Melbourne they earned 8 medals, then, in Rome it was 10, and 11- in Tokyo. Their Olympic excellence has continued almost at all times whenever the Georgians had a chance to participate. The Olympic spirit has known its lower times too. One of those bitter moments has killed the joy even this time in London the very first day of the Games when the 24-year old Georgian feather-weight from Mestia Betkil Shukvani fell out of the contest by losing the fight to his French colleague. The worst part to digest was that he was leading it all the time and the defeat came in the last 5 seconds – the ‘enemy’ took advantage when Betkil seemed to relax for a split second. What a shame! The medal slipped away when it had started looming clearly on the horizon. Yes, things like this happen, and this could be a reason for a nasty pain in the heart. Anyway, let’s look forward to better Olympic moments for Georgia! The first gold medal was celebrated Saturday night on 29 July at the Georgian House in London during an opening event of the days of Georgian culture in presence of the members of the national Olympic team, the Georgian Londoners and many foreign guests. Present were vice prime minister of Georgia Giorgi Baramidze and the Ambassador of Georgia to Great Britan Giorgi Badridze. Group of folk singers Shvidkatsa and children’s dancing ensemble Kavkasioni performed during the evening with great success. Georgia is among 10 countries of the world by the number of Olympic gold medals. It is also one of the first by the number of all earned medals if judged proportionally to the number of its population. These figures are definitely enough to hope that many more awards are in store for us to enjoy. Let’s wish good luck to our athletes. At this time, the chance to glorify the nation is right in their hands!

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