- Title: GEORGIA: Georgian luger laid to rest in his hometown
- Date: 21st February 2010
- Summary: PRIEST LEADING A PRAYER AS MOTHER DODO AND SISTER MERIAM ARE BENT OVER THE COFFIN HANDS HOLDING PORTRAIT OF NODAR KUMARITASHVILI COFFIN BEING LOWERED INTO GRAVE
- Embargoed: 8th March 2010 00:44
- Location: Georgia
- Country: Georgia
- Topics: Sport
- Reuters ID: LVAC0LEL7VVJVW0FFNBED02JFA3Z
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, killed on a training run at Vancouver Olympics, was buried before thousands of mourners in his snowbound hometown on Saturday (February 20).
The 21-year-old died on Feb 12 on a training run hours before the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympics when he lost control of his sled and was propelled over a short barrier into unpadded vertical supports at 90 miles per hour.
Villagers gathered outside his family home in this small mountain town 180 km (112 miles) west of the capital, Tbilisi.
People brought wreaths and flowers and placed candles in front of the athlete's photograph which was hung on the wall of his house.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, wearing the white jacket of the Georgian Olympic team, accompanied by his wife Sandra, attended the funeral.
"Of course this shouldn't have happened, but it is hard to blame anybody. I mean the investigation is going on and we are getting all the cooperation, a lot of sympathy from people of Canada, from people all over the world and well, as you see, it is a day of grief today in Bakuriani and we hope this will not happen again and he may rest in peace," said Saakashvili's wife Sandra outside Nodar Kumaritashvili's house.
Georgian president and his wife expressed condolences to Nodar Kumaritashvili's father David who met them outside the family home and went in to pay respect to Nodar's mother and sister.
The open coffin bearing the 21-year-old, his body wrapped in the red-and-white Georgian flag, was borne down streets cleared of ice down to the local cemetery.
The funeral took place a week after Nodar Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled and slammed into a steel pillar at 90 miles per hour (145 kph).
The death cast a pall over the Games and raised questions over the safety of the lightning-fast luge track.
The International Luge Federation and Games organisers VANOC said the track was safe and blamed human error for the death. But they subsequently raised the barrier at the fatal bend and shortened the track to cut its speed.
President Mikheil Saakashvili, who was present in Vancouver when Kumaritashvili died, has said Georgia will build a sliding centre in Bakuriani and name it after the luger.
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