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'We Will Raise Glasses Filled With Water'

Olympic Profile: Promising Georgian Judoka Varlam Liparteliani
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Just before the Olympic Games kicked off in London, RFE/RL's Georgian Service spoke to judoka Varlam Liparteliani.

Georgian judo star Varlam Liparteliani shares his impressions from the London Olympics with RFE/RL's Georgian Service about life behind the scenes at the world's biggest sporting event.

I'm in a great mood today, I cannot say how happy I am about Lasha's [Shavdatuashvili] victory [in men's judo]. It's our first gold medal at the London Olympics.

Unfortunately I couldn't attend Lasha's morning bouts. We couldn't miss our training sessions, but we were with him in spirit. We were receiving news from the competition hall, though, and they were very positive.

First we learned that Lasha had defeated Chilean Alejandro Zuniga and Frenchman David Larose, both by ippon [the highest score, which ends the fight before regulation time].

We could hardly wait for training to end. As soon as we were done we hurried to the hall.

When we entered, Lasha was already in the middle of his third match and we saw how brilliantly he defeated the representative of the host country, Britain's Colin Oates, also by ippon. In the semifinal, Lasha again impressed everyone by beating [Japan's] Masashi Ebinuma, who comes from the birthplace of judo.

Lasha Shavdatuashvili celebrates after beating Hungary's Miklos Ungvari on July 29.
Lasha Shavdatuashvili celebrates after beating Hungary's Miklos Ungvari on July 29.
In the evening we watched the final, Lasha's fifth bout and the most important in his life. His opponent was Hungary's Miklos Ungvari, a three-time European champion. Lasha was just 11 years old when Ungvari won his first European title!

The match was really tough and tight, but Lasha was a bit better. He really deserved this gold medal. He's only 20 and I'm sure he has a great sports career ahead of him.

Everyone is happy here in London thanks to our teammate's victory, Georgia's entire Olympics delegation is celebrating. For us athletes this victory is not only a great joy but also a huge motivation as we prepare for our own competitions.

I can imagine how happy everyone must be in Georgia, especially in Lasha's home city of Gori. Unfortunately we cannot celebrate this victory in a due manner, since we still have to follow our special regime, but our delegation and our managers will be celebrating.

When we arrived at the Olympic village tonight, it was much more packed than when we first came, it's almost full now.

There is no set time for dinner. The dining hall is open 24 hours a day, you can go there whenever you want and you are treated like a king.

Tonight's dinner will be our celebration. We will raise our glasses filled with water and, according to Georgian tradition, we will say, "May God give you the strength of water."