Cyclist Perkins gets nod from Putin for Russia switch
Australian cyclist Shane Perkins has been given the green light to attain Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin, paving the way for the twice world champion to represent his new country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Melbourne-born 30-year-old won a sprint bronze for Australia at the 2012 Olympic Games in London but missed out on selection for last year’s Rio Games.
“The President resolved to grant Russian Federation citizenship to Shane Alan Perkins,” the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.
Perkins posted a picture of himself on Twitter wearing Russia colours on his bike and wrote: “I’m the most excited guy in the world right now! I can make my dreams come true!”
Perkins, a good friend of Russia’s reigning world champion sprinter Denis Dmitriev, who took bronze in the sprint at Rio, began seriously considering defecting less than a year ago. He told local media that he was frustrated at being shut out of Australia’s high performance program.
Perkin’s father Daryl, a former national champion, raced in the now defunct tandem sprint with Ian Browne at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. They were beaten by the silver medal-winning Soviet Union pair of Imants Bodnieks and Viktor Logunov in the quarter finals.
Australia has granted citizenship to a number of top Russian athletes over the years, including women’s tennis player Daria Gavrilova, the world No.26, and former European champion speed skater Tatiana Borodulina.