Russia’s pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, who last week caused a global uproar with remarks seen as anti-gay, leapt into a new controversy yesterday by declaring she wanted to leave her “decayed” Russian home town to live in Monaco.
The 31-year-old star double Olympic champion told journalists in her hometown of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) that she prefers to live in Monaco, where living and training conditions are better.
“I think I will live abroad,” Isinbayeva told reporters, quoted by mass circulation weekly Argumenty i Fakty. “I will have many responsibilities in Volgograd, but I want to live in Monaco.”
In her first comments since the controversy over her position on gay rights erupted, Isinbayeva appeared to disparage her home town and said she will only come to visit her coach.
“What can one do in penniless Volgograd? The city became scary, old. It has decayed,” she added. “The roads are terrible — if you buy a foreign car you might as well write it off.”
Complaining of the working conditions of teachers, doctors and sports trainers, she said: “Our city does not really have conditions for living. No-one listens to us, they just wave their hands.”
Facing a second media storm in the space of a week, Isinbayeva said in another interview later that she didn’t mean to offend Volgograd, merely pointed out the dire state of the city’s roads and facilities. Isinbayeva also denied that she plans to move full time to Monaco.