Australian track sprinter Shane Perkins has thanked Vladimir Putin after being granted Russian citizenship as he targets selection for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Perkins, a double world champion while riding for Australia, declared his intention to apply for Russian citizenship after missing out on selection for the 2016 Olympics, and thanked Putin after the Russian president personally signed a decree approving his application.
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“I’m very grateful and I’d particularly like to thank the Russian Cycling Federation, President Vladimir Putin, my coach Vladimir Khozov, and the strong team of people behind me that have made this transition possible,” Perkins said.
“I’m ready to race for Russia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, I am working very hard to continually raise the bar in my performances both at training and in racing and will continue to do so every step of the way in the lead up to and at the Games.”
While riding for Australia, Perkins won bronze in the men’s sprint at the 2012 London Olympics, also winning the keirin at the 2011 World Championships and the team sprint at the 2012 World Championships.
Perkins is currently competing in the Russian championships in Moscow, where he was part of a winning team in the team sprint, and placed third in the individual sprint.