VOLGOGRAD: Yelena Isinbayeva has placed her feet perfectly down the runway throughout her pole vault career but now she has also discovered a talent, metaphorically, for putting her foot in it writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The 31-year-old newly recrowned world champion attracted international approbrium last week after speaking out loyally in defence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay legislation.
Later she tried to explain away her criticisms of the gay community in sport as sentiments lost in translation. She may find it harder to explain away the fact that her loyalty to Russia does not extend to living in the country.
In an interview with the Argumenty i Fakty newspaper, Isinbayeva said her home city of Volgograd was so run-down she had no option but to return to make her home in the billionaires’ Riviera tax haven of Monaco.
Isinbayeva said: “In Volgograd I’ll have a lot of commitments but I want to live in Monaco. What can you do here, in the city, when Volgograd is simply poor? The city has become awful and old. It’s deteriorated. The roads are terrible.
“You simply need to create decent conditions to live here. In our city we do not have the conditions to live.”
Volgograd, named Stalingrad until details of the extent of the dictator’s terror regime were exposed, is a host city for the 2018 World Cup.
Isinbayeva had lived previously in Monaco but returned to Volgograd to start working again with her former trainer, Yevgeny Trofimov. The success of that partnership was evidenced in her world athletics gold medal.
Asked about her long-term future Isinbayeva said she might consider working in Russia’s sports ministry or in the International Olympic Committee.
She is already one of the IOC’s Youth Olympic Games ambassador, a role which came into question after her comments about Russia’s anti-gay legislation. The Olympic Charter specifically prohibits discrimination of any sort.
Isinbayeva’s sudden ability to talk her way into controversy is bad news for the international athletics federation (IAAF) at a time when she and Usain Bolt represent the clean face of a sport assailed by dope-test failure on every side.