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A legendary figure of Olympic shooting, the 47-year-old Georgian star Nino Salukvadze is set to make history at Rio for not one but two reasons.
As well as becoming only the second athlete in history after German/Italian canoeist Josefa Idem Guerrini to appear at eight Olympics, Salukvadze will be competing alongside her 18-year-old son Tsotne Machavariani in the shooting events.
“I first competed at 1988 and won gold and silver,” said the veteran Salukvadze. “I have been competing for a long time. The competition is tough, but I am training hard and have my son as motivation.”
Born on 1 February 1969 in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Salukvadze represented the USSR at her first Olympics in Seoul 1988. There she posted an Olympic-record of 690 points to win the 25m pistol title from Japan’s Tomo Hasegawa and Yugoslavia’s Jasna Sekaric. She then scored a world-record 390 points in the qualification round of the 10m air pistol but lost out to Sekaric in the final.
Competing in the same events in the following four Olympics, she placed respectively fifth and tenth at Barcelona 1992, seventh and fifth at Atlanta 1996, 11th and 25th at Sydney 2000, and eighth and 10th at Athens 2004. In the meantime Salukvadze also gave birth to Tsotne on 26 September 1997.
Now competing for Georgia, she won a third Olympic medal at Beijing 2008, taking the bronze in the 10m air pistol, an event won by China’s Guo Wenjun.
Four years later, she carried her country’s flag at the Opening Ceremony in London 2012, the seventh Games of her long career.
Salukvadze has put together an impressive record over the course of her three decades of competition, winning six world titles, four European titles and a large collection of silver and bronze medals in her two events for both the Soviet Union and Georgia.
“I am so proud and very happy to have my son here with me,” said Salukvadze of her latest Olympic adventure.
“He is just beginning now. I am more nervous for him, but when I am at the shooting range I am the coach and mentor. When I am at the village I am the mother, although he is with the other athletes, not with old people like me.”
Sixth at the 2016 ISSF European Championships in Gyor (HUN), Machavariani will compete in the 50m pistol and 10m air pistol events in Rio.
“My mother tells me that although she was almost my age when she won her Olympic gold, she represented the Soviet Union at that time and had better training conditions, and more experience in tournaments,” Machavariani said.
“She tells me that we do not have that luxury and she does not demand any results from me. I think this is her way to calm me down and minimize my nervousness during the tournament.”
“It is every athletes' dream to be here,” he added. “It makes me very happy to make my dream come true.”
And like any teenager, he is hoping to have some fun once his events are over: “My dream is to go surfing at Copacabana. I think Rio is a very cool place. My mother will let me, yes.”
“My mother won her first medal when she was 19 - I am only 18,” chuckled Machavariani, who has plenty of time ahead of him in which to match her success.