Georgia Beats Russia in Beach Volleyball ... Sort Of
One of the stories of the day in Beijing is, no doubt, the meeting between Russia and Georgia in women's beach volleyball. Irresistible story, what with the two countries clashing in and around South Ossetia in recent days.
So, with Georgian television broadcasting live and a horde of reporters on hand, Cristine Santanna and Andrezza Martins of Georgia (sort of ) rallied to defeat Alexandra Shiryaeva and Natalya Uryadova of Russia, 10-21, 22-20, 15-12.
I say "sort of" because Santanna and Martins are native Brazilians who recently obtained Georgian citizenship so they could compete in the Olympics.
Here's an excerpt from the AP report:
The five-day battle between Russia and Georgia killed hundreds, if not thousands, left 100,000 without homes and turned an obscure pair of Brazilians in the Olympics' biggest beach party into proxies for a war-torn people they barely know.
With the border war casting sobriety upon an otherwise spring-break style of sport, Cristine Santanna and Andrezza Martins rallied from a first-set blowout to beat Russia in beach volleyball Wednesday. The native Brazilians, who shopped for new citizenship to circumvent a quota of two teams per country, preserved their chance at an Olympic medal and offered their adopted homeland hope for even more.
"We had to give extra for the Georgian people," said Santanna, who made just two short trips to Georgia to apply for a passport. "I give my strength to them. I fight here as they fight there."
"Today," she said, in an odd but moving mixture of President Kennedy at the Berlin Wall and Lou Gehrig at his Yankee Stadium farewell, "I feel like I am a Georgian." ...
Dozens of reporters scurried around a media center that had previously been sleepy, as the beach volleyball competition moved sluggishly through the round-robin. Most were interested in little but whether the crisis in the South Ossetia region was on the players' minds.
"We just want to end the conflict," Shiryaeva said. "All the history between us was friendly."
But as the post-match news conference came to a close, Uryadova snapped.
"If they were Georgian, that certainly would have been an influence," she said, her arms folded at her waist. "But they are not."
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