Golden Moments & Olympic Logic


Could a weightlifter in the heaviest category look elegant? Georgia’s – and now the world’s – strongest man is built like a statue standing on cast-iron legs with every muscle in its place in a well-built tall body. No doubt he was the most popular and attractive physical presence in the arena that day. And the day was an unprecedented instant of triumph in the sporting history of Georgia – two national flags raised at the same time in the same Olympic event as a result of two victories in the 105+ weightlifting contest in the Rio 2016 Games: Lasha Talakhadze, 22, who won Gold and Irakli Turmanidze, 32, who took Bronze.

Incidentally, nothing was supposed to be taken for granted that memorable Olympic day – the entire pack of contestants was extremely powerful. They all fought like lions having staged an outstanding show competing for the title of strongest among men.

One had to be present in person among the emotionally overwhelmed Georgian – and not only – spectators to grab the special feel of the moment. Trying to put it all in regular journalistic parlance would be more than a vain attempt to describe the situation. Both Georgian athletes, especially Lasha, were expected to yield a considerable result and Olympic logic would have it happen so because both were good and ready, but serendipity had it that both would triumph simultaneously in front of the crowds and for many a Georgian leaning eagerly forward in his seat- the relief was truly liberating; liberating us from heavy hearts, drooping spirits, disturbed conscience and wistfully roaming minds. We needed that Gold, and the Bronze, too, for that matter.

I’m just another journalist in the crowd here, and my role in winning a medal is equal to nothing, but before Lasha’s win, I still suffered my own sense of guilt that a Gold was escaping us. This is the way it feels once you are a member of the Olympic family.

Later that day, I discovered our Gold boy was a real intellectual on top of his muscle power, when I found myself by chance in an interpreter’s seat at the post-battle interviews and press conference. The logic of thought and the brilliance of word were right there for the ladies and gentlemen of the press and broadcast media to pick up and make use of. There could not have been anything more delightful than recognizing your fellow countrymen’s versatility in the most important international event for the rest of the world to hear.

Thank you, boys! We all like a happy ending in a book or a movie, but a happy ending in real life feels even better.

More happiness came on hearing that Georgian Zaza Nadiradze had emerged number 5 in rowing – the single scull – beating everybody’s expectations. Olympic logic should have given us a couple of medals in judo, but fortune did not have them for us. But then a second Gold piece was added to our modest but still very valuable set of medals by Lado Khinchengashvili, the ‘featherweight’ free style wrestler who did very close battle with his Japanese rival. What a relief it was on the verge of our nervous breakdown while watching him fight!

So the national anthem of Georgia sounded twice in the Rio Olympic Games of 2016 – not bad at all! But the happy tune could have been played on more occasions had we had both better luck and better training. Says Leri Khabelov, President of the Georgian National Olympic committee who feels proud about our Olympic harvest: ‘Our motto was to do better in Rio than we did in London, and the mission was accomplished; all our athletes fought selflessly, having done their utmost. In a word, all our preliminary calculations have been justified. This feels really good.’ Nothing to add!

Nugzar B. Ruhadze

25 August 2016 20:14