Georgian athletes land in Sochi for Olympics

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 6, 2014 at 3:44 am •  Published: February 6, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Georgian athletes have beaten political wrangling to arrive at the Sochi Olympics a day ahead of the opening ceremony.

An 11-member delegation touched down just after 11 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) Thursday on just the second flight from Tbilisi to nearby Sochi since Georgia and Russia fought a brief war in 2008.

Tension between the countries meant Georgia's Winter Olympians — three Alpine skiers and a figure skater — could not be certain they would be sent in Sochi.

"It's a great joy for our athletes to come and participate," Georgia's Olympic committee president Leri Khabelov said after the short flight. "I think that relations (between Russia and Georgia) are getting better."

The skiers landed Thursday, having completed training in Austria this week.

Figure skater Elene Gedevanishvili, who placed 14th at the 2010 Vancouver OIympics, was expected to arrive later from the United States.

"I'm super-excited," Nino Tsiklauri, who will compete in women's slalom and giant slalom, told The Associated Press. "I even lose my words when I'm speaking so it's really cool."

Tsiklauri said uncertainty over competing had been "kind of a worry."

"But in the last period, like the last couple of months, we were pretty sure that we were going to come," she said. "Most of the politicians were thinking it was the Olympic Games and should be totally separate from the politics."

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