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  • Comments: 0
  • 16 August 2013 00:00
  • in Community
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  • Last Modified: 16 August 2013 08:39
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Athlete role model Isinbayeva providing controversial messaging for children say top stars

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A number of high-profile US and British athletics stars claim athlete role model Yelena Isinbayeva is providing controversial messaging for young people at community sport level across the world after the Russian pole vault world champion spoke out against homosexuality. 

The 31-year-old poster girl of Russian athletics claimed her third pole vault world title in front of her adoring home crowd at the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow this week but is now in the headlines for defending the controversial Russian law that makes it illegal to promote homosexuality to under-18s.

"We are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves normal, standard people,” said the double Olympic champion following her win in Moscow.
"We just live with boys with women, women with boys.

"Everything must be fine. 

"It comes from history. 

"We never had these problems in Russia, and we don't want to have any in the future.”

Following the comments, American athletics legend Michael Johnson, the four-time Olympic champion and eight-time world champion has said that such views are not those you would associate with an athlete role model like Isinbayeva, who is a lead ambassador for the Youth Olympic Games. 

"It is very flawed judgment and a very flawed opinion," Johnson told BBC Sport.

"She is very popular over here with a small group of people who are very powerful and who probably buy into that view in this country.”

US athlete Nick Symmonds, who won a silver medal in the men’s 800 metre event in Moscow, also question the comments of Isinbayeva, who will be Mayor of the Athletes' Village at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia next year.

"It blows my mind that such a young, well-travelled, educated woman would be so far behind the times,” said Symmonds.
"For most athletes from my generation it's not an issue, for the most part we believe in equality.”

British heptathlete Louise Hazel has gone further, suggesting she should be stripped of her high-profile position as a Youth Olympic Games Ambassador. 

"The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should revise her position,” said Hazel.

"A role model is somebody we can look to for inspiration and also to imitate.

"You're not supposed to exclude anyone and that's what she's done in making these comments.

"I would be worried if my children or the next generation of athletes were looking to Yelena Isinbayeva and thinking that these comments are acceptable. Quite simply, I don't think they are.

"They're sending the message that discrimination is OK and it quite clearly is not in this day and age."

"I just don't feel that it's in keeping with the spirit of sport in general and the all-encompassing, all inclusive values of the Olympic Games."

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