/ Athletics

Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva blames her poor English for anti-gay law comments

Updated: Friday, 16 Aug 2013 11:35 | Comments

Yelena Isinbayeva: 'What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests' Isinbayeva has previously stated: 'We consider ourselves, like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys... it comes from the history'
Yelena Isinbayeva: 'What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests' Isinbayeva has previously stated: 'We consider ourselves, like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys... it comes from the history'

Yelena Isinbayeva has blamed her poor English for yesterday's controversial statements on Russia's anti-gay law, insisting she is opposed to discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.

Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law in June making it illegal to give under 18s information about homosexuality.

The move has been widely condemned and has led to calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

US runner Nick Symmonds this week dedicated his world 800 metres silver medal to his gay and lesbian friends in response, while high jumper Emma Green-Tregaro yesterday painted her fingernails in the colours of the rainbow.

Green-Tregaro was criticised by home favourite Isinbayeva, who defended the new law in a press conference before collecting her pole vault gold medal at the World Championships in Moscow.

Her comments attracted widespread criticism and led Isinbayeva to today clarify her remarks in a statement released via the IAAF, athletics' world governing body.

"English is not my first language and I think I may have been misunderstood when I spoke yesterday," she said.

"What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests.

"But let me make it clear I respect the views of my fellow athletes and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality (which is against the Olympic charter)."

Speaking in English at a news conference yesterday, Isinbayeva had said of Green-Tregaro's actions: "It's disrespectful to our country, disrespectful to our citizens because we are Russians.

"We consider ourselves, like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys" - Yelena Isinbayeva

"Maybe we are different than European people and people from different lands.

"We have our law which everyone has to respect. When we go to different countries, we try to follow their rules.

"We are not trying to set our rules over there. We are just trying to be respectful.

"We consider ourselves, like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys... it comes from the history.

"I hope the problem won't ruin our Olympic Games in Sochi."

Isinbayeva will be the mayor of the main athletes' village at the Sochi Winter Games and is ambassador for the Youth Olympics.

British heptathlete Louise Hazel called for the her to be removed from that position, but the IOC will not be making any rash decisions until clarification has been received.

"You will appreciate that English is not her first language so we want to be absolutely clear about what she said and if that is what she 'meant' to say before we make further comment," a statement released to Press Association Sport said.

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