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Kristi Heim: The World in China

Seattle Times reporter Kristi Heim explores a changing China on the world stage.

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August 22, 2008 8:46 PM

Three countries borne by one athlete

Posted by Kristi Heim

The American flag bearer at Sunday's closing ceremonies is neither famous nor decorated with a lot of gold, but she couldn't be a better choice. Khatuna Lorig, an archer, has represented three different countries in her Olympic career: the former Soviet Union in 1992, Georgia in 1996 and 2000, and the United States at these games.

Khatuna_Lorig_Headshot_archery.jpg

Lorig, 34, was chosen yesterday by fellow athletes -- the U.S. captains of each sports team. She was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, and immigrated to the United States in 1995, but did not get her citizenship in time to compete for the U.S. in 2000 or 2004. She lives in California, where she works at Home Depot when she's not training.

Lorig's parents still live in Georgia, where Russian forces have been battling Georgian troops in the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

In the first week of the Games, she was shocked to turn on the television and see the conflict erupting there, Lorig told Reuters last week. "My parents are over there, very close to that area where the situation is happening. But I got to talk to my mom on the telephone this morning and she's fine. She was happy to hear from me and just told me to get my mind back into the Olympics."

Lorig didn't advance past the quarterfinals this time, but she said having a chance to carry the flag is "almost like winning a gold medal, maybe even better."

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