Australian cyclist Shane Perkins thanks Vladimir Putin after defecting to Russia

Shane Perkins switch to Russia has been rubber-stamped after chairperson Vladimir Putin signed an executive order to grant Russian citizenship

Shane Perkins switch to Russia has been rubber-stamped after chairperson Vladimir Putin signed an executive order to awarded the Australia-born Olympic bronze medallist and dual world champ Russian citizenship.

Perkins, who represented Australia and won individual sprint bronze at the 2012 Olympic Game, applied for citizenship in February after informing Cycling Australia of his intention to switch allegiances last year.

He had missed out on the Australian team for the 2016 Rio Olympics and said he wanted to pursue other options to chase his dream of Olympic representation at Tokyo 2020.

Im very grateful and Id especially like to thank the Russian Cycling Federation, chairperson Vladimir Putin, my coach-and-four Vladimir Khozov and the strong team of people behind me that have made this transition possible, Perkins said.

Im 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 route in the lead up to and at the Games.

Perkins, 30, is in Saint Petersburg where he was crowned champion in the team sprint at the Russian national championships on Wednesday. He came third in the mens sprint and will contest the keirin on Saturday.

Perkins has no family ties to Russia and any connection to his new nation stemmed strictly from a strong relationship with his fellow cyclist, Denis Dmitriev, who recommended he is related to attain the switching after the pair talked of Perkins fights for recognition within the Australian set-up.

Despite an impressive palmars, which includes world titles in the keirin and the team sprint and commonwealth gold, Perkins career came to a juddering halt following the 2015 world championships. He claims he was locked by Cycling Australia from attending World Cups, even though he offered to fund himself after he was told there was not enough money to send him.

His subsequent non-selection for the Rio Olympics made it clear to him he had no future in the saddle representing Australia, he said, so he opted to pursue his options under a different flag. Cycling Australia did not stand in his style.

I have a clean slate to prove myself to Russia, Perkins told the Guardian in April. There is no history like there was with the Australian team.

After finishing his campaign at the Russian nationals this weekend, he will head to Japan to continue contesting the Japanese Keirin Series, with an appearance at the Tokyo Games in 2020 his long-term goal.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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