Updated: Thursday, 05 December 2013 23:02 | By Agence France-Presse

Isinbayeva asks Putin for new stadium

Russian women's pole vault great Yelena Isinbayeva asked President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to encourage one of the country's super-rich tycoons to build a new sports stadium in her native city.


Isinbayeva asks Putin for new stadium

Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva on the podium with her gold medal at the World Championships in Moscow on August 15, 2013

The Volgograd native and ardent Putin supporter had said in August that she wanted to leave her "decayed" Russian home town and live abroad.

Isinbayeva's comment had created a furore in Russia because of her celebrity status and reputation as a patriot who joined Putin's 2012 re-election team.

But the 31-year-old star double Olympic champion appeared to backtrack on Thursday during a Moscow meeting between Putin and a political movement he heads.

"I have a request," Isinbayeva said with a smile after being handed a microphone to pose her question to Russia's sports-mad leader.

"Is it possible to request that you ask one of our oligarchs -- we have many of them in Russia -- to build a separate stadium for us, athletes?"

Putin has previously pressured Russia's billionaires -- many of whom are keen to preserve friendly Kremlin relations -- to pitch in to grand state projects such as next year's Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2018 football World Cup.

The Kremlin chief said on Thursday that he would on this occasion ask the local governor for help.

"I will definitely give instructions for (Sports Minister) Vitaly Mutko and the governor to give this issue some thought."

Isinbayeva later told the RIA Novosti news agency that she and Putin had a brief -- and confidential -- chat after the plenary session of the meeting.

She said the issue was "personal" and did not give further details. 

"All is well," said Isinbayeva. "I hope that the thing turns out fine."

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