Reuters - Sun, 14 Feb 10:41:00 2010
Ruben Gonzalez's unlikely Olympic adventure will slither to its finale when the 47-year-old Argentine former photo copier salesman completes his final two runs in the men's luge competition.
"Speedy" Gonzalez was so shaken by the horrific death of fellow competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili on Friday that he has decided to call time on an Olympic career that began in 1988.
"I realised at the opening ceremony last night that this wasn't for me any more," said Gonzalez, who finished the first two runs in last place eight seconds off the pace.
"I didn't know how to celebrate. At one point when I would have been hanging on every moment I went outside for a hot dog.
"Yesterday gave me a new perspective. There are other things to do in life," added the father of two.
Houston-based Gonzalez, competing at his fourth Games after taking up the sport aged 21, paid an emotional tribute to Kumaritashvili who he said helped him on a training trip in Latvia two years ago.
"I didn't speak his language and he didn't speak mine," he said. "He was warm, he would always look me in the eye and smile. When we first met he didn't know who I was but he knew I needed help and went out of his way to offer."
His Olympics may be ending on a sad note but Gonzalez said he still has something to aim for on Sunday.
"I've got a pretty good lock on last place," he said. "Someone would have to try real hard to take that away from me."
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