MOSCOW, December 5 (R-Sport) -Pole vault star Yelena Isinbaeva has appealed to President Vladimir Putin to support construction of a dedicated athletics stadium in her home city of Volgograd.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist argued that Volgograd deserved a new stadium because it had produced so many sporting champions. The southern Russian city’s only arena at present is the crumbling Soviet-era Central Stadium, used as a training ground by the local football team Rotor Volgograd.
“Everyone laughs because we have no home,” Isinbaeva told Putin during a question-and-answer session at a conference of the pro-presidential All-Russian People’s Front. “We only have the destroyed football stadium…and that will be transformed for the football World Cup (in 2018).”
Isinbaeva, a member of the front and an ardent support of the president, asked Putin: “This is my request: Is it possible to ask our oligarchs, and we have many in Russia, to build for us, for athletes, a separate stadium?”
Putin is thought regularly to urge tycoons such as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to “open their wallets” to support Russia’s sporting endeavors. He promised to consider Isinbaeva’s request.
“This project can probably be realized through joint efforts – both from the regional administration and the Sports Ministry,” he said, adding he would order Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko to contact the city’s authorities to discuss its viability.
Volgograd, a city of 1 million people, is famed for the pivotal Battle of Stalingrad, as it was then known, against the Nazis in World War II.
It is the home of Tatyana Lebedeva (triple jump) and the birthplace of Yelena Slesarenko (high jump), who won Olympic gold medals at the 2004 Games in Athens. Figure skating gold medalists Evgeny Plushenko trained in Volgograd as a child and fellow Olympic champion skater Maxim Marinin was born in the city. Tennis ace Nikolai Davydenko lives in Volgograd, while four-time Olympic swimming champion Alexander Popov graduated from the Volgograd Institute of Physical Culture.
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