Russia Georgia Conflict Won’t Stop Olympic Hopefuls

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Russian and Georgian athletes embrace after winning medals

A day after Georgian athletes considered leaving due to violence ack home, Vakhtang Salukvadze took the bronze in the women's 10m air pistol. Russia's Natalia Paderina took the silver, and 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," Salukvadze said. "I am very nervous today. It's very difficult for my people."

Georgia launched a major offensive Friday to retake control of the separatist province of South Ossetia. Russia, which has close ties to the province, responded by sending in armed convoys and military combat aircraft. Russia bombed Georgian towns Saturday.

"It's very difficult for us as Georgians because of everything what's going on at home. It was nice that Natalia Paderina came up to me after and gave me a handshake," Salukvadze said. "Yesterday thought the Georgian Olympic team might withdraw."

Luba Golovina, an 18-year-old Georgian who competes in the gymnastics trampoline event, said there should be no difficulties while competing with the Russians.

"I think it's not a problem with sportsmen. It's politics," Golovina said. "Sports and politics are different."

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