Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva poses with her gold medal in the women's pole vault as she stands on the podium during the medal ceremony at the World Athletics Championships in the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013.
Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva competes in the women's pole vault final at the World Athletics Championships in the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013.
MOSCOW (AP) — Pole vault great Yelena Isinbayeva condemned homosexuality
Thursday after criticizing competitors who painted their fingernails in
rainbow colors to support gays and lesbians in the face of a new
anti-gay law in Russia.
The Russian, who won her third world
title Tuesday in front of a boisterous home crowd, came out in favor of
the law which has drawn sharp criticism and led Western activists to
call for a boycott of next year's Winter Olympics in the Russian resort
"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, said in English. "We just live with boys with woman, woman
"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 two Swedish athletes competed
Thursday with their fingernails painted in rainbow colors at Luzhniki
Stadium, the venue that also hosted the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Emma Green Tregaro, who won a bronze medal at the 2005 worlds,
posted a picture of her fingers on the social media site Instagram,
saying "Nails painted in the colors of the rainbow." She followed that
with several hashtags, including "#pride" and "#moscow2013."
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," Green
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."
Swedish sprinter Moa Hjelmer ran in the 200-meter heats with nails painted in the rainbow colors.
teammates have done the same," Sweden team spokesman Fredrik Trahn
said. "The federation has not discussed it. It is all up to the
The IAAF, the sport's governing body, said both opinions should be respected.
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 said it was wrong for the Swedes to make such a statement while competing in Russia.
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."
runner Nick Symmonds, who won the silver medal in the 800 meters
Tuesday, assailed Isinbayeva for her comments.
"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
Symmonds also said he dedicated his silver medal
to his gay and lesbian friends, as he had said he would in a blog entry
for "Runner's World" before the championships.
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."
Isinbayeva has set 28 world
records in her career and won seven major titles, including gold medals
at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. She was part of the team that helped
Russia win the right to host the 2018 World Cup.
who said she plans to take a break from the sport to have a baby, was
inside the stadium to receive her gold medal shortly after making her
comments. The crowd roared when she stood on the top of the podium, and
Isinbayeva thrust her arms in the air and jumped giddily.
treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev of Russia put the gold medal around her
neck and kissed her cheeks. When the Russian anthem began, Isinbayeva
started singing but soon broke down, burying her face in her hands. She
quickly regained her composure and kissed her medal while the anthem
Before posing with American silver medalist Jenn Suhr
and Cuban bronze medalist Yarisley Silva, Isinbayeva dried her eyes and
then checked the tips of her fingers for smeared makeup. She was all
smiles in the ensuing photos, and then addressed the adoring crowd,
speaking into a microphone as her image was broadcast on giant screens.
Isinbayeva's popularity in Russia is so great that she is to serve as "mayor" of one of the Olympic villages in Sochi. She is also an ambassador for the Youth Olympics.
organizing committee spokeswoman Svetlana Bobrova said the body had no
reason to comment on Isinbayeva's statements about the painted
"We like her and she is the mayor of the Olympic village," Bobrova told the AP.
It was unclear how many other Swedes or athletes from different countries made similar protests since the world
championships started last Saturday. Hjelmer was eliminated from the
heats in the 200, but Green Tregaro qualified for the final of the
women's high jump and will return to the track Saturday.
flag is often used as a symbol of gay rights and gay pride, an issue
that has gained attention from Western activists and entertainers since
Russia's anti-gay law was passed in June.
The law does not
explicitly ban participation in gay pride parades or promotion of
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality online, but anyone
wearing a rainbow flag on the street or writing about gay relationships
on Facebook, for instance, could be accused of propagandizing.
International Olympic Committee and FIFA have asked the Russian
government for more clarification. It remains unclear if the new law
will be enforced during the Sochi Olympics or World Cup.
Sports Writers Raf Casert and Pat Graham, and Associated Press writers
Jim Heintz and Leonid Chizhov contributed to this report.