Georgian luger races in Beijing in memory of cousin killed at 2010 Games

6.Georgian luger races in Beijing in memory of cousin killed at 2010 Games
Georgia's Saba Kumaritashvili competes in the men's singles luge event at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Yanqing on February 5, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
YANQING, China — Saba Kumaritashvili says he was inspired to race in the luge at the Beijing Olympics by the death of his cousin in the same sport at the 2010 Winter Games.اضافة اعلان

Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed when his luge sledge flew off the track while training at the Vancouver Games just hours before the opening ceremony.

Saba Kumaritashvili is 21, the same age Nodar was when he died.

Yet the family's tragedy helped fuel the surviving cousin's ambition to pursue the high-speed sport on ice and race at a Winter Games.

"I think about Nodar — I think about him all the time," said Kumaritashvili, who raced in Saturday's men's singles heats at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre, finishing 30th and 31st.

"Everyone in my family is in luge. After Nodar, I didn't want luge to die in Georgia, I wanted to keep it going.

"I wasn’t afraid. I wanted to be in the Olympics to race."

Luge has run in the family for generations, going back to the early 1970s. 

Saba's great-grandfather Aleko led the project to build Georgia's first track, then coached the national team and ran the luge federation. 

"My parents didn’t object to me going into luge, I think they wanted it more than me," joked Kumaritashvili.

Saba was only nine when Nodar died and concedes he can remember "only moments" about him.

Still, he "is one of the reasons I'm in luge".

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