Russia’s most famous track and field athlete put down her hometown, one week after her comments defending Russia’s anti-gay law caused a stir at the World Championships.
Yelena Isinbayeva, two-time Olympic pole vault champion, said she would rather live in Monaco than Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad.
“What can you do here, in the city, when Volgograd is simply poor?” Isinbayeva told Russian newspaper Argumenty i Fakty, according to Reuters. “The city has become awful and old. It’s deteriorated. The roads are terrible.”
Isinbayeva launched a “diatribe,” according to R-Sport, criticizing her birthplace’s low pay for teachers and coaches and lack of sports achievements, save her own. Volgograd has a population around 1 million and is one of Russia’s 20 biggest cities.
“I have lots of ties to Volgograd but I want to live in Monaco,” she told the newspaper, according to R-Sport. “Volgograd is a city of victories, and victories for us are associated with sport and with studying. But this all needs to be developed like in Kazan.
“There, you can do any sport you want. But what can you do here, when Volgograd is a beggar city? It’s become an ugly old town. It has gone into degradation. … In our city there are just no conveniences for living.”
UPDATE: Isinbayeva said her comments about Volgograd were misunderstood, according to Sovetsky Sport.
Isinbayeva said she will start a family after winning her third world title last week and hopes to return for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“You simply need to create decent conditions to live here,” said Isinbayeva, who was congratulated by Russian president Vladimir Putin for her world title in Moscow. “In our city we do not have the conditions to live.”
Isinbayeva also told the newspaper she might eventually want to work at Russia’s sports ministry or in the International Olympic Committee, according to Reuters.
Last week, Isinbayeva made headlines for backing Russia’s anti-gay law but said her comments were misunderstood.
“I don’t want to go into politics, but I unwillingly became a political figure and my words started to be listened to,” Isinbayeva told the newspaper.