Vladimir Putin Reportedly Injures Spine In Judo Match
Collin Van Ooyen / November 27, 2012 - 11:57pm
Only months removed from achieving his momentous eighth dan status in the discipline of judo, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly sustained a spinal injury during a recent match.
The information comes courtesy of Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, who shared his diagnosis of his Russian counterpart in a recent interview with international news provider Reuters. "I know he has this problem. He loves judo. He lifted a guy, threw him, and twisted his spine," said Lukashenko in the interview. Lukashenko is, for the record, not a doctor, but rather one of the most polarizing and controversial European leaders currently in office.
The statement may not have sat well with Russian representatives at the Kremlin, as spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to provide a comment on the subject.
Belarus gained their independence from the former Soviet Union nearly 21 years ago, and the two sides have maintained a healthy rivalry in many international sports settings. The two presidents had planned on playing a hockey game against one another but Putin was forced to pull out. "He tells me: We are not prepared yet to take on your team," said Lukashenko. " He has damaged his spine somewhere. In a judo match. He was on the mat and hurt his spine." To the casual observer, this scenario reeks of a semi-friendly chirp from one rival to another. As a respected political figure, Lukashenko cannot in good conscience let fly with a full on dig at his Russian counterpart, but that hs not kept the masses from speculating wildly.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin has denied that Putin's back issue is serious, but confirmed as recently as last month that he is in fact dealing with some kind of sports-related injury. The President has scaled back his international appearances as a result, as several planned visits have simply not taken place.
The tight-lipped nature of the situation may stem from President Putin's own personal pride. As a former KGB officer, top-level judoka, and long-time power figure in Russian politics, Putin has developed for himself a stone-faced public image. The 60-yeaar-old was spotted limping at the Asia-Pacific summit back in September, and he may be concerned that the injury might make him appear weak in the public eye.
The truth about Putin's injury may be unconfirmed as of yet, but after over 40 years of practicing such a physical form of martial arts, it should not come as any surprise that his body may now be starting to wear down. Judo is a discipline that sees a heavy amount of full body contortion, as well as absorbing full body slams on a continuing basis. He may simply be getting worn out as he gets older in age. We can't be sure, but one thing seems to be certain: his rival across the border in Belarus was not about to pass up a chance to take a shot at him.