Virtually 12 years after his cousin died in luge crash, Georgian slider completes first two runs

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Georgia’s Saba Kumaritashvili competes within the males’s singles luge occasion on February 5. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Imaegs)

Virtually 12 years in the past to the day, Saba Kumaritashvili’s cousin died in a luge crash earlier than the beginning of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Video games.

Nodar Kumaritashvili misplaced management of his sled throughout a coaching run simply hours earlier than the 2010 Winter Video games’ opening ceremony.

Saba says he thinks about Nodar on a regular basis, including that his cousin’s loss of life offered further motivation to take part within the Winter Olympics.

“I wasn’t afraid. I wished to be within the Olympics to race,” mentioned Saba. “Everybody in my household is in luge. After Nodar, I didn’t need luge to die in Georgia. I wished to maintain it going.” 

Kumaritashvili accomplished his first two runs in males’s singles on the Nationwide Sliding Centre on Saturday, forward of the ultimate two runs to come back on Sunday, although he isn’t a medal contender.

The person who received gold within the males’s singles on the 2010 Vancouver Video games, Felix Loch, paid tribute to Nodar on the time, melting his medal into two disks, then etched the Georgian’s portrait and the years of his beginning and loss of life on one earlier than presenting it to the Kumaritashvili household. 

Chasing what can be his third gold medal within the males’s singles occasion, Loch says he is “comfortable” Saba has made it to Beijing.

“It’s emotional. I walked there in Georgia and I felt actually welcome there,” Loch mentioned. “I feel it was the best factor to do, to go there. It takes lots of braveness for Saba to be right here. He likes the game, like his cousin. It’s nice to see him sliding for the entire luge household. 

“It’s a fantastic signal for the game. It reveals you what sport can do.”

The Kumaritashvili household has been a driving drive for the game of luge for the reason that 1970s. Saba’s great-grandfather Aleko helped construct Georgia’s first luge monitor, additionally serving because the nation’s coach and working the nationwide luge federation. 

“My mother and father didn’t object to me going into luge. I feel they wished it greater than me,” Saba mentioned with a smile. 

“Nodar is among the causes I’m in luge. Now we have 10 years’ age distinction, so I don’t bear in mind a lot of him, solely moments.”

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