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Olympic shooters hug as their countries do battle

  • Story Highlights
  • Reports: Sharpshooter says if world learns lesson, "there would never be any wars"
  • Russian, Georgian share hug, kiss after winning silver, bronze medals in pistol event
  • Georgia's Nino Salukvadze won medal in 1988 as part of then-Soviet Union squad
  • Salukvadze, Natalia Paderina will face off in another pistol event this week
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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Sharpshooters from Russia and Georgia embraced Sunday after earning medals for their countries, which have been teetering on the brink of war since the Beijing Summer Olympics kicked off last week.

Russia's Natalia Paderina and Georgia's Nino Salukvadze hugged after winning Olympic silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the women's 10-meter air pistol competition.

The rivals kissed each other on the cheek after standing on the medal podium with China's Guo Wenjun, who won the gold medal in the event.

Waving flower bouquets high, the women smiled broadly at the audience.

"If the world were to draw any lessons from what I did, there would never be any wars," Salukvadze, 39, said afterward, according to media reports. The reports described the two as friends.

Georgia said it launched an operation in South Ossetia on Thursday after artillery fire from separatists killed 10 people. Russia, whose forces entered the republic Friday, accuses Georgia of plotting to wipe out Ossetians loyal to Russia. Georgia says Russia merely wants control of an oil pipeline.

Before Sunday, Paderina and Salukvadze had competed against each other several times, including at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics; the 2005 European Championships in Tallinn, Estonia; the 2006 World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia; and the 2008 European Championships in Winterthur, Switzerland.

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Salukvadze's bronze medal marked the first for her country in these Games.

She won a silver medal in the same event two decades ago at the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, where she also took home a gold for the 25-meter pistol competition. Salukvadze was a member of the then-Soviet Union's 1988 Olympic shooting team.

Sunday's silver medal was first in an Olympics for Paderina, 32.

Despite reports that the Georgia Olympic delegation might return home, team spokesman Giorgi Tchanishvili said Sunday the athletes would stay and compete, according to The Associated Press.

Tchanishvili said that the competitors were ready to leave China if it would help the situation back home, but that Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili sent a message saying the athletes should remain at the Games, AP reported.

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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