Putin and Medvedev battle it out … on the badminton court

Why did Russia‘s two most powerful men choose to broadcast to the world that they’d played a game of badminton? And more importantly were they any good?

In the latest baffling instalment of his video blog, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev delivers a short introduction to the sport and then, to the keyboard and drums of a slow-motion kiss from a bad 80s action movie, he and prime minister Vladimir Putin bat a shuttlecock back and forth across an otherwise empty sports hall.

Great leadership it is not, but is it at least good badminton? Well, no. “The level on the video isn’t high,” says Kenneth Jonassen, head coach of Team GB. “I think [Medvedev] hasn’t played for that long.”

The Performance Team at Badminton England were a little more impressed. “Their movement around the court could be more streamlined,” said a spokesperson who asked to remain anonymous, “but there are some quick exchanges of shots near the net and they seem to have good hand-eye co-ordination because there aren’t many occasions when they miss the shuttle.”

That’s if the footage is a representative sample, of course, which places a lot of faith in the Kremlin’s video editors’ commitment to honest and impartial presidential sports coverage. Then again, if they were that keen to make their leaders look good, they could have just deleted the video entirely. Or at least cut the romantic music.

Tom Meltzer

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