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Vancouver reacts to death of luge athlete
Posted by Kristi Heim
Vancouver's attention turned from the torch run celebration and protests to the death of a Georgian luge athlete who crashed this morning on a training run.
I was just finishing an interview with former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan in the Downtown Eastside when news of this started to break.
Sullivan, who became a quadriplegic after a skiing accident when he was 19, had just finished carrying the torch through his childhood neighborhood in a special chair built to help him on trails. He was stunned about the news.
"It's a terrible tragedy," he said. "I do know these athletes dedicate themselves completely to the sport."
"I don't think the public has any idea of the risks of these sports. People do put themselves at great risk doing what they love," Sullivan said.
The International Olympic Committee issued a statement confirming the death of the athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died after crashing on the last corner of the course on a training run.
"Our first thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of the athlete. The whole Olympic Family is struck by this tragedy, which clearly casts a shadow over these Games," said IOC President Jacques Rogge.
"We are deeply struck by this tragedy and join the IOC in extending our condolences to the family, friends and teammates of this athlete, who came to Vancouver to follow his Olympic dream," said John Furlong, the CEO of the Vancouver Organizing Committee.
International Luge Federation President Josef Fendt said: "This is a terrible accident. This is the gravest thing that can happen in sport, and our thoughts and those of the 'luge family', are naturally with those touched by this event."
An investigation is underway into the circumstances of the accident. Training was suspended and technical officials are now trying to establish the causes.
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