Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva condemned homosexuality and competitors who painted their nails in rainbow colors to show their disdain for the new anti-gay law in Russia. The very muscular Russian, who won her third world title Tuesday, pulled no punches (while sounding a lot like America's Mike Francesa:
"If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people," Isinbayeva, a two-time Olympic champion. "We just live with boys with woman, woman with boys.
"Everything must be fine. It comes from history. We never had any problems, these problems in Russia, and we don't want to have any in the future."
At least 2 Swedes, Moa Hjelmer and Emma Green Tregaro, painted their nails and spoke out against the archaic new law. "The first thing that happened when I came to Moscow and pulled my curtains aside was that I saw the rainbow and that felt a little ironic," Tregaro said in a video posted on the website of Swedish newspaper Expressen. "Then I had a suggestion from a friend on Instagram that maybe I could paint my nails in the colors of the rainbow and that felt like a simple, small thing that maybe could trigger some thoughts."
So Yelena blasted them as well:
"It's unrespectful to our country. It's unrespectful to our citizens because we are Russians. Maybe we are different from European people and other people from different lands," Isinbayeva told reporters. "We have our home and everyone has to respect (it). When we arrive to different countries, we try to follow their rules."
American middle-distance runner Nick Symmonds, who won the silver medal in the 800 meters Tuesday, was none too pleased. "Oh, my God. I can't believe she said that. It's bad," Symmonds told the AP. "For Yelena to come out and say we are normal, standard Russian citizens — I'm paraphrasing here — and we don't stand for that. I want to say to Yelena, 'You understand a very large portion of your citizens here are gay and lesbian people. They are standard people, too. They were created this way. For you to tell them that they're not normal and standard, that's what we're taking an issue with.' That's why we have to continue to demonstrate and to speak out against the ignorance that she's showing."
"While I was here I wanted to focus on athletics. I wanted to win a medal. That was my job," Symmonds said. "Now that I'm done doing that job, if there's something I can do, if this gives me a platform to voice my opinion and speak out about the atrocities that I've seen here, that's what I'd like to do."
The IAAF, the sport's governing body, said both opinions need to be respected.
"The IAAF constitution underlines our commitment to principle of nondiscrimination in terms of religious, political or sexual orientation," IAAF spokesman Nick Davies told The Associated Press. "Allied to this is our belief in free expression as a basic human right, which means we must respect the opinions of both Green Tregaro and Isinbayeva."
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