The girl rumoured to be Vladimir Putin’s secret lover, Alina Kabaeva, has lived below her personal highlight as an Olympic champion gymnast. Angela Walker appears to be like on the thriller circling the lady hidden in Putin’s shadow.
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this tale may just be titled, Putin the thief, his spouse & his lover – as a result of that is the tale of Putin’s lover, Alina Kabaeva.
The 2004 Olympic rhythmic gymnastics champion, Kabaeva is extensively believed to be Russia’s secret first girl. Rumours have lengthy swirled round Kabaeva and the Russian president, alternatively Putin assists in keeping his private existence strictly non-public.
When requested in regards to the alleged affair by means of newshounds throughout the wintry weather of 2008, Putin’s answer was once vibrant to mention the least: “I have always negatively reacted to those who, with their snotty noses, and erotic fantasies, prowl into others’ lives.”
In 2008, a Russian tabloid was once compelled to near after it dared to wreck the tale of Putin courting a girl part his age.
Viewed thru a Russian lens, the connection between Putin and the now 38-year-old former gymnast is unsurprising. When the pair met, Kabaeva was once regarded as considered one of Russia’s maximum eligible girls, voted Glamour mag girl of the yr in 2006.
Rhythmic gymnastics champions frequently transform stars in Russia, the game’s reputation extra similar to netball in New Zealand. The enchantment of rhythmic gymnastics in Russia stems partly from how it conforms to the picture of femininity so extremely valued of their tradition, the place slender, sublime sportswomen in makeup and glints are extra prized than the ones with hypertrophied muscle tissue.
Accordingly, Kabaeva has lived a lot of her existence within the highlight, regardless that she hasn’t ever been a ways from controversy or thriller.
She confronted her first main hurdle in Sydney on the 2000 Olympics, the place, because the reigning global champion, she was once the overpowering favorite to win gold. Commentators, together with the NZ Herald, predicted Kabaeva would transform as acquainted as Olga Korbut or Nadia Comaneci.
However crisis struck on the Games when Kabaeva’s hoop spun out of her hand and he or she dashed off the ground to retrieve it. The main error intended she needed to accept bronze. Devastated, she later reportedly stated: “I thought my life was over.”
She received the sector championships the next yr, simplest to be stripped of her medals after checking out sure for the banned substance furosemide (the sector identify going to a Ukrainian gymnast). She was once disqualified for 2 years.
Kabaeva and her entourage emphatically denied the doping price, blaming a faux dietary complement.
Having served her ban, redemption got here in 2004 when Kabaeva received gold on the Olympic Games in Athens. While her victory was once acclaimed, she wasn’t everybody’s favorite.
Her routines demonstrated a hyper-flexibility that verged on circus-esque contortionism from time to time. Rhythmic gymnastics purists didn’t recognize the manner she popularised, and the game misplaced fanatics throughout this time.
However Kabaeva was once dubbed ‘the most flexible woman in Russia’, and made an ‘Honoured Master of Sports of Russia’.
Following her gymnastics occupation, Kabaeva entered politics, changing into a deputy of the State Duma (a member of parliament). She become the chair of the National Media Group, began her personal charitable basis and gymnastics competition, and finished a PhD in rhythmic gymnastics pedagogy.
At Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, Kabaeva was once a torchbearer on the opening rite (under) along different native Olympic luminaries similar to tennis famous person Maria Sharapova.
Despite her repute, Russian Vogue characterized Kabaeva as “essentially the most mysterious lady within the nation”.
“Everyone knows about her, and at the same time, no one knows anything – except what she herself, in homeopathic doses, announces on her official website,” the mag stated.
In the 14 years she has been related to Putin, it’s been claimed she brought about his divorce (from first spouse Lyudmila Putina), married him in a secret wedding ceremony, and gave delivery to a number of of his youngsters – together with dual sons, allegedly throughout a virtually three-year disappearance between 2018 and 2021.
The Kremlin has denied a dating between Putin and Kabaeva. She is on document after Putin’s divorce as pronouncing she had met a person who “I love very much … sometimes you feel so happy that you even feel scared.”
Kabaeva can have each explanation why to be afraid at the moment, with international sanctions focused on Putin’s shut friends. Although, in step with the New York Post, she is these days holed up in a protected chalet in Switzerland with their youngsters.
Her trainer, Irina Viner-Usmanova, is also impacted by means of sanctions. She is married to billionaire Alisher Usmanov and the couple has robust ties to Putin.
Viner-Usmanova, as head trainer of the Russian nationwide rhythmic gymnastics workforce, has produced a large number of Olympic champions, together with Kabaeva. Her debatable coaching strategies together with sustained verbal abuse have been portrayed within the 2017 documentary Over the Limit.
Her excessively punitive coaching regime makes for frightening viewing from time to time and most probably displays the tradition wherein Kabaeva was once ready for Olympic glory.
Kabaeva and Viner-Usmanova have been outstanding within the Russian media throughout the 2020 Summer and 2022 Winter Olympics.
They each vehemently criticised the judging on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after Israeli gymnast Linoy Ashram defeated Russia’s Dina Averina. It was once the primary time a non-Russian gymnast had received the Olympics since 1996.
Kabaeva informed Sport-Express: “It seems the main challenge at today’s rhythmic gymnastics competition was … to find an opportunity to deprive Russia of gold medals.”
However the post-competition evaluation carried out by means of the International Gymnastics Federation discovered “no bias or irregularities … in the judging panels”.
During the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing final month, Kabaeva weighed in at the doping saga surrounding 15-year-old Russian determine skater Kamila Valieva (pictured above).
“Why was it necessary to wait until the moment Valieva performed in the team and won the gold medal?” Kabaeva stated, in step with the Russian information company TASS. “This raises suspicions that this was done deliberately to snatch the gold medal from our team … It looks disgusting, like a targeted attack on Russian sports.”
Some commentators drew parallels between the drug scandals of Valieva and Kabaeva, with Russian blogger Lena Miro urging Valieva to take inspiration from Kabaeva.
“Alina was able to climb the Olympic podium after a loss and pressure that would have broken any other person. That is why Kabaeva is a great, unique champion in the history of sports and spirit,” Miro wrote.
“Kamila, I’ll tell you like it is: I’m not sure that you can do what Alina did in her time – the impossible… But you should at least try to repeat the triumph of Alina.”
Kabaeva says she was once impressed by means of her soccer champion father. “I saw how he played for Pakhtakor in a stadium filled to capacity, how they applauded him, shouting after another goal scored: ‘Kabaev is the best’,” she informed Bolshoi Sport.
Kabaeva has undoubtedly recognized applause of her personal, even though she by no means become as well-known as Nadia Comaneci. Perhaps as Putin’s paramour throughout this time of disaster, her identify can be recognized around the globe, however for the entire mistaken causes.