Pole vault great condemns homosexuality

UPDATED: Gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva condemns homosexuality, criticizes Swedish athletes who painted fingernails to support gays and lesbians
Associated Press
Aug 16, 2013


UPDATE: Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva's comments on her country's law against gay "propaganda" seemed as unequivocal as the bar-clearing jump that won her the world championship: She supported the law and derided gays.

But on Friday, Isinbayeva said that her comments, in somewhat fractured English the day before, may have been misunderstood and that she opposes any discrimination against gays.

The clarification — or U-turn — underlined the sensitivity of the issue for Russia as international criticism of the law persists and calls continue for a boycott of next February's Winter Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi.

Previous story

The rainbow colors two Swedish athletes painted their fingernails in support of gays and lesbians sent a clear message and brought a swift rebuke from a Russian star, perhaps even a glimpse of what's to come at the Sochi Olympics.

Speaking at the world championships, pole vault gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva condemned homosexuality and criticized the Swedes for their gesture critical of Russia's new anti-gay legislation.

The law, which bans gay "propaganda," has drawn sharp criticism and led some Western activists to call for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in the Russian resort.

Isinbayeva won her third world title Tuesday before a boisterous home crowd, and drew even louder cheers Thursday when she received her gold medal. But before accepting it, the woman who will serve as "mayor" of one of the Sochi Olympic villages spoke in favor of the anti-gay stance.

"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 with boys.

"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."

Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro, who won a bronze medal at the 2005 worlds, and sprinter Mao Hjelmer sported rainbow colors on their fingernails for events at Luzhniki Stadium, which also hosted the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

"The 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 the 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."

Isinbayeva said it was wrong for the Swedes to make such a statement while competing in Russia.

"It's 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."

Russia's new 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.

The IOC 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.

The IAAF, the sport's governing body, said the opinions of all athletes should be respected.

"The 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."

The International Olympic Committee declined to comment.

"You will understand that at this stage we cannot comment on reported opinions/comments," IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said.

American middle-distance runner Nick Symmonds was shocked by Isinbayeva's comments. Symmonds won a silver medal in the 800 meters at about the same time that Isinbayeva won her pole vault title.

"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 she's showing."

Symmonds said he dedicated his silver medal to his gay and lesbian friends, as he said he would in a blog entry for "Runner's World" before the championships began.

"While 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 and won seven major titles, including gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, but she said this week that she plans to take a break from the sport to have a baby. She was part of the team that helped Russia win the right to host the 2018 World Cup.

Asked by Russian TV if she had any intentions of becoming a politician, Isinbayeva said: "I have blabbed so much today and, as usual, everything was turned upside down."

Fans cheered when Isinbayeva entered the stadium to receive her gold medal and roared their approval when she stood on the top step of the podium, thrusting her arms in the air and jumping with glee.

IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev of Russia put the gold medal around her neck and kissed her cheeks, and 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 played on.

Before posing with American silver medalist Jenn Suhr and Cuban bronze medalist Yarisley Silva, Isinbayeva dried her eyes and checked her fingertips for smeared makeup. She was all smiles in the ensuing photos, and then addressed the adoring crowd, speaking into a microphone as her image flashed on giant screens.



The Answer Person

Excellent commentary from a woman who is a citizen of a country where rampant alcoholism, disappearing people, concentration camps and mass executions are the "normal". Yes she is so correct. Maybe her vaulting pole is just not quite long enough? No matter, she will get cancer and die one day.

Peninsula Pundit

How enlightened you sound.
You sure do evoke sympathy for your cause.
I cannot fathom why people are so prejudicial about your unnatural disability.
Maybe they are just following your example.

The Answer Person

LOL, so sorry you are incapable of grasping humor and irony. Go back to Lakeside.


@ Peninsula Pundit
The Answer Person played a stupid trapping game so that he/it could turn around and insult you - that made him/it happy.
They call people like him/it - losers.


Really, what did they expect her to say? She was probably given a script.


Reads more like U.S. media political propaganda in an effort to pump up the level of hate in order to turn Americans further against the Russians.

How much should we care what she says or thinks?

Pavlovian knee-jerk reaction BS.


Or it could be something that you don't think exists: a news organization simply doing their job - reporting without bias - on discrimination, a topic of great public interest in America these days.
I see no slant, pro-gay or otherwise in the article.

Not everything is a conspiracy. In fact, if they hid this news item, THAT would be far, far bigger evidence of skullduggery. You've shown your own Pavlovian tendencies towards conspiracy...


Re: "a news organization simply doing their job"

It lacks any substantive value and reads more like entertainment propagated for the hate crowd to me.

There are actually only a handful of U.S. news services anymore. See the source above.

In order to get REAL news it has become increasingly necessary to look outside the U.S.

You know the old joke about Pravda and Izvestia don't you Comrade?

Pterocarya frax...

I see Americans for Prosperity must have changed the mode of payment for people like you. Now not only are you paid by the posting or number of words, but now there must be an extra bonus each time you work in words like communism and comrade into your comments.


I am AFP, and most open minded, patriotic Americans are. I just laugh every time I see a "tolerant" left winger displaying his/her lack of tolerance for a differing opinion.


I don't care what people do in their PRIVATE life. What I want to know is why did they take two beautiful things like the rainbow and the word "gay" meaning "happy" and make them into a statement that they were never intended for.

Colonel Angus

They did it just to piss you off.


Ha Ha. That's what I thought.

Peninsula Pundit

It is because they didn't like the proper use of the word reeuq and if they used a symbol that looked like what things looked like afterward, normal folks would've mistaken their logo as a chocolate covered banana.
In another angle to the question you ask, don't you just love those new commercials where they tell people using the word 'gay' as saying something is 'lame' should 'knock it off'?
It is hilarious: A group who made a word mean something different than the way it was used for over 200 years are now complaining that people are now using it with another meaning not of their liking!
Ya gotta love the hypocrisy.

The Answer Person

Hmmm...you REALLY need to take a history course before you die.


There will always be people that will not accept every race or lifestyle. I wish people could all just get along, but they can't. People even get upset if you don't agree with them on how to do everyday things, never mind what political affiliation you are or what religion. Just live your life the way you want, keep most of your opinions to yourself and change what you can. Other than that, there's not much you can do. Hate dominates, unfortunately.


Yeah, some people (grandma's girl, for example) even complain about the word gays use to describe themselves, and the adoption of a rainbow as their logo. The sad thing about discrimination is that the people who discriminate are often unaware that they are bigots.

AT first glance, it's easy to think Contango is right by saying we probably shouldn't care what a Russian athlete things about the subject. The problem is that when a respected celebrity comes out in support of a discriminatory government, it only helps perpetuate the discrimination. Anyone who cares about human rights should care about what she said.


You are so funny. Yes it bothers me that some people make words mean something that they are not meant to be. I remember that you are against A CERTAIN WORD and we are not supposed to use that one, but when I protest against the use of a word (for a use that it was NOT intended for, I am a bigot? YOU are such a hypocrite!!!!

Peninsula Pundit

Honestly, I wrote the comment above before I read this one.
People are gonna start thinking we're the same person, grandmas girl.
Yes, hoe-moes are just as hypocritical and prejudiced as anyone else, maybe more so.
But never in their own eyes.


Stating an opinion about an alternative lifestyle that one does not personally agree with is hardly intolerant. It is their own belief, and YOU should learn to respect that, coasterfan. Another hypocrite lefty.

Licorice Schtick

Fascism is so appealing to simple minds.

2cents's picture

"Swedes to make such a statement while competing in Russia."

I question why people have to make statements all the time? Really, if I preferred Bud Light over Miller Light and had a problem with it should I just go out and make a big statement, tell everyone that Bud is better and they better listen? Not everyone is going to be understanding of all others beliefs in this world. Sometimes a low profile is better!


My kind of girl! She a real man only loving woman. She a proud hetrosexual like me. Hetrosexuals toot your horn!

Peninsula Pundit

I here, not queer, get used to it!

The Answer Person

Horns must be "Blown".

doggie mom

Why does anyone else care what anyone else does? I don't care because I am not gay and it doesn't involve me. If only people would mind there own lives...like abortion. If you don't want one don't get one. You don;t want to be in a sane sex relationship or couple don't be in in one. You don't like other races don't involve yourself with one. You hate animals don't get one. It is when you cross the line and tell someone else what they need to do because it is not how youwant them to do it is when it is wrong.

The Big Dog's back

The "religious" right wants to tell you how to live.

Peninsula Pundit

Not at all.
My friends and I don't go parading down the street dressed in feather boa's and little else, carrying signs,waving flags and making noise about our sexual preferences.
Maybe these folk would get a little more of a break if they didn't push their agenda on everyone else, whether others want to see it or not.
What people do behind closed doors is not my business.
Parade down the street in heels and a mask?
You sure ain't helpin' your cause.


My thoughts also.


Amen, sick of seeing and hearing about gays, when the left picks up a cause they beat it to death and cause division, purposely?


In theory, these international games are supposed to be all about athletics. They're supposed to bring people TOGETHER, at least long enough to enjoy the athleticism and the discipline of those competing! The Olympics, for example, was resurrected for that very reason.

I don't care what you or anybody else thinks of homosexuality. The Swedish athletes behaved inappropriately for taking their pro-gay rights position, and the Russian athlete fired right back by expressing her own (the official Russian position?) opinion which was JUST as inappropriate.

International sports competitions aren't about human rights per se, and shouldn't be used as platforms for anything but the games.

ADDED NOTE: Should gay athletes be banned? Of course not! Should gay athletes be less celebrated when they perform well? No! But again, it's about the athletic contests, not about religion, sexual orientation, political ideology, or anything else some militants would care to try to make of it!

thinkagain's picture

Great job Yelena!

Do not allow any person, any special interest group or any law to erode your repulsion against homosexuality. And do not allow yourself to be deceived into thinking your feelings are abnormal if you have been tagged as being "homophobic". The people who do not have such repulsion - who tolerate homosexuality and sympathize with it are the ones who are morally and psychologically sick.

Pray for those who fall into homosexual sin out of human weakness, that God may assist them with His grace.

I recognize where my true citizenship is found and hold the values of the kingdom of God above those of any nation I might live in.

The Big Dog's back

I'm praying for you neverthinks.

thinkagain's picture

You might be surprised to know I’ve been praying for you also Brutie. We were created to have fellowship with God. He stands knocking at the door of your heart, why not let him in?

The Big Dog's back

Maybe you should let my God into your heart.

The Big Dogs ba...

Im prayin for you too Big dog


-Bigger Dog

The Big Dog's back

real shallow person you are pooh.


Your church tolerates it and even goes so far as to pay a priest for it instead of turning him over to the authorities. Priests molesting boys is an illegal form of homosexuality. So start with the church and their tolerance of that behavior.

Peninsula Pundit

Here's another tolerant swish who hypocritically jumps to conclusions.
You ASSume he is a Roman Catholic without any idea that is the case.
If you want tolerance, better start practicing what you preach.
I don't want tolerance.
Wrong is wrong.
Evolutionally speaking, if homosexuality was right, this planet would be very sparsely populated. Nature inherently seeks to propagate a species. So it is not at all discriminatory, but merely technically correct, to term homosexuality 'Unnatural'.
It is certainly a more accurate description than 'gay'.
Many homosexuals are the saddest folks you'll ever meet.
If I found a man attractive in a sexual way, it would make me very sad, for sure.


Wasn't jumping to anything. This person claims to be a Christian. So you jumped to a conclusion yourself. And this planet is in no immediate danger of a decreasing population. And there are many many more homosexuals who are the happiest and proudest people you would meet. So your generalization works the other way as well. And if don't like men, good for you.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I don't even what is.


Wow, what a bigot and an a--hole you are.


That for "forgot to think again".

thinkagain's picture

You’ve been trolling this site for how long and you still haven’t figured out the function of the “reply” link. Please do us all a favor, get educated and do something positive with your life.


Seems she changed her tune.


Yelena probably has gay family members and friends , she will never have the opportunity to know them as they really are. Staying in the closet can hurt spouses, children and themselves. It was inappropriate to bring this issue forward in Russia, its about being an athlete , performing, pride in your sport and country.

The Big Dog's back

I agree.

Peninsula Pundit

Here's another ASSumer about this Russian woman's family and then a faux concern for others.
Typical 'Unnatural' hypocrisy.

The Answer Person

For sure. You are 100% correct this time. YOUR hypocrisy is NATURAL!


So she has an opinion. Why worry what she says. That's her thought process.


Because she is a bigot, they need to be called out. Some people are born gay, but no one is born a bigot. It's a learned behavior.

thinkagain's picture

OK, you’ve finally convinced me, one person was born homosexual…you. But tell me please, were you also born an idiot or was that a learned behavior?


Go home and brush your tooth, and then go f--k yourself.

be for real

The more these so called gays try to push their agenda,the more people are going to go against them.It is not hate either we dont want their lifestyle and they should keep it to themselves and stop trying to push it on everybody else.they dont like it when we quote our bibles or tell what we believe but yet we are suppose to keep quite when they do the stupid stuff they do. seems one sided to me and the gays are haters instead of us.rainbow that


And what agenda are they pushing? To be treated as equals, to receive the same benefits as everyone else, to stop being treated as second class citizens. Or are those things only for heterosexual people? If they remain quiet and do nothing, then they will be pushed aside and forgotten about. The bible is something you live by or you don't. You can't just pick and choose what you're going to abide by at the moment. It's either all or nothing, can't use it to suite your agenda when you are fit to do so.


Who cares what Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva thinks about anything?

JudgeMeNot's picture

Big dog, 4sizzles and other low infos gay loving kool-aid drinkers.


Geez 44846, as Nelson Mandella would say - tolerance.



The white population of Russia is and has been in decline.

Laws against homosexuality may figure into this fact.


Here, here.....now, all of you come out of your closets and play together nicely.