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Russian President Vladimir Putin is a noted sports enthusiast but he took it to extraordinary lengths on Saturday prior to the men's javelin final at the World Athletics Championships as Russian finalist Dmitri Tarabin revealed.
The Moldova-born 21-year-old Tarabin, who was granted Russian citizenship in June 2010, was already nervous enough preparing to compete in front of an expectant crowd at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
However, it was nothing to how he felt when the phone rang hours before the final.
"I received a call 3 1/2 hours before the final from President Putin," said a slightly shocked Tarabin.
"He said he believed in us (Tarabin and his wife Mariya Abakumova the defending women's world javelin champion) and expected medals.
"Before the last attempt I was thinking that he might be watching and waiting for the medal..."
Tarabin, did not disappoint him producing his best throw of the final to take bronze (86.23m).
He was some way off the winner the Czech Republic's Vitezlav Vesely (87.17m).
However, the pressure now switches to 27-year-old Abakumova, the 2008 Olympic silver medallist, to repeat or better the feat in Sunday's final.
President Putin, who made a speech at the opening ceremony of the championships, likes to promote his own fitness and his love of both the outdoors and practising sports often appearing bare chested ... in front of the massed cameras of the media.