Putin urges Russians to take up sport



President Vladimir Putin on Monday urged Russians to take up sport and praised their strength and work ethic in an interview with a newly-launched 24-hour sports network.

Putin was speaking hours before the World Anti-Doping Agency released its report into allegations of widespread doping and blackmail in Russian athletics.

The judo-mad Russian strongman, in an interview with Match TV channel from a hockey locker room, said that no one could be too busy to stay in shape.

“Based on my personal experience, I can say: the more you do, te more you are able to do,” said Putin, wearing a jersey from the Night Hockey League, in which top Russian officials, businessmen and sports stars play.

“Victory and defeat are both motivators,” he said, adding that Russians should not be discouraged by hardships and defeat.

“As a rule, victory motivates everyone. And defeat — it motivates strong people, first and foremost strong people.”

Putin added that most Russians were strong, successful and hard-working.

A longtime judo enthusiast, Putin has cultivated his strongman image through numerous demonstrations of his sporting prowess, from weightlifting and badminton sessions with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to perfecting his butterfly stroke in a Siberian river.

The Russian leader celebrated his 63rd birthday on October 7 by taking to the ice in the Olympic city of Sochi to play hockey with government officials and former National Hockey League (NHL) stars.

Putin told Match TV that while he has been physically active since he was 11, he could not force other government officials to follow his lead.

“This is a sphere where you cannot be strict, you cannot use force,” he said.

“One needs to encourage people to play sports and be physically active. And if you do it in a rather subtle way then success will come.”

Launched earlier this month, the federal network is aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle and sports entertainment.

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