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10 Aug 2008
Beijing 2008

Salukvadze, Pederina praised for gesture


Guo Wenjun caused a deafening roar at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall when she soared to a glorious victory of the final of the 10m air pistol.

She set an Olympic record in the process to cap a sequence of dead-eye shooting, yet a selfless gesture from one of her rivals stole the headlines the following day.

A matter of days before the Games in Beijing started, conflict broke out between Russian forces and the breakaway Georgian Republic of South Ossetia.

The Georgian delegation of 35 athletes had been the centre of intense political and diplomatic pressure over their continued participation in Beijing.

The National Olympic Committee for Georgia decided to press ahead despite the start of the conflict back home – the country’s First Lady, Sandra Roelofs, addressed the team at 2am on the day of the pistol finals - and Nino Salukvadze was to repay the decision handsomely.

Guo, Russian Natalia Pederina and Salukvadze had been vying for the three medals throughout the contest played amid a tense atmosphere.

Guo was the model of consistency though and won with a score of 492.3, beating the Olympic best mark set by Pederina in the qualification round. Guo wiped a tear from her eye and acknowledged the cheers of the partisan home crowd.

The Russian took silver and the Georgian Salukvadze the bronze. Any anxieties organisers had about a Russian and Georgian athlete sharing the podium soon dissolved.

After congratulating Guo, Salukvadze walked over to Pederina and the two shared a warm embrace. Salukvadze, who 20 years earlier had won gold in the 25m air pistol at the Olympic Games in Seoul, received universal praise for the gesture.

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