On the same day as Vladimir Putin was asked to honor Khabib Nurmagomedov as a Hero of the Russian Federation, legendary figure-skater and politician Irina Rodnina has argued that the UFC star is “probably not” a worthy recipient.
One of Rodnina’s fellow State Duma deputies, Gadzhimurad Omarov, revealed on Tuesday that he had written to Putin advising the Russian president to award the unbeaten lightweight the highest state honor available because of the Dagestani’s achievements in life and sport.
Rodnina, who is also a national sporting hero with 10 World Championships, three Olympic gold medals and 11 European Championship wins among her spectacular career, was unconvinced by the idea and suggested that Nurmagomedov had only been doing his job.
“I don’t know,” she told Sport Express.
“I have no opinion. We have many champions but few Heroes of Russia.
“I think this is probably not an award for athletes. It is for people who perform some kind of feat.
“He is a professional athlete who did his work. It is a job – like it is for any professional athlete.”
The last athlete to become a Hero of Russia was ski star Larisa Lazutina, who was given the award by former president Boris Yeltsin following the 1998 Olympic Games.
Champion cross-country skiier Lyubov Yegorova also received the accolade, as did wrestler Alexander Karelin.
“As they decide, so they decide,” said Rodnina of Nurmagomedov.
“But I did not see anything heroic in his actions.”
Omarov had pointed out Nurmagov’s influence on the sport and young people in his letter to Putin.
“In these difficult times, when the level of morality among youngsters is rapidly declining, Khabib is demonstrating by example that any youngster, if they train and work diligently, can achieve incredible heights,” he explained.
“Aside from that, his relationship with his family and to family values deserves deep respect.
“I consider people like Khabib outstanding examples for the upcoming generation to emulate, just as every generation has their own idols.”