Medvedev, Putin clash... at badminton

2011-10-24 21:11

Moscow - Russia's Dmitry Medvedev may be outgunned by political heavyweight Vladimir Putin with his macho judo and chest-baring antics, but on Monday he revealed a quieter passion - for badminton.

In his video blog, Medvedev put on a tennis shirt and tracksuit bottoms to read an earnest lecture encouraging Russians to play more badminton, before slinging a few shuttlecocks across the court with his mentor, Putin.

Medvedev, who stood aside to allow Putin to stand as president in the forthcoming March elections, has slimmed down in recent years but has never attempted to imitate his mentor by taking his shirt off in public.

The only physical pursuit he has claimed a liking for is yoga.

In the video, set to cheesy electronic music, Medvedev says that badminton is the sport not only of presidents, but of Russia's first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin.

"Gagarin also loved this game and played it well," he says.

And in a phrase likely to be thrown back in his face after he apparently meekly allowed Putin to return to the top job, he claims that badminton helps with decision-making.

"In life it helps you solve different problems, because someone who plays badminton well takes decisions quickly. That means he has will, the will to achieve results."

In the video, grim-faced Putin is shown lobbing a shuttlecock across as Medvedev leaves his court dangerously open, apparently winning the first point.

The video provoked a wave of scornful comments from bloggers.

"First there was tennis, then there was judo, and now badminton. What next?" one commentator wrote on the Echo of Moscow radio station's website, referring to the favourite sports of Boris Yeltsin, Putin and Medvedev.

"Badminton - that's really going to save Russia," a commentator called Jak Sol, wrote on Medvedev's Facebook page.