Swedish athlete Emma Green Tregaro, who painted her nails in rainbow colours to show support for Russia's gay and lesbian community in the wake of recent anti-gay propaganda laws, says Yelena Isinbayeva's anti-gay comments have destroyed her reputation.
MOSCOW, RUSSIA (AUGUST 17, 2013) (AMS/DENTSU/REUTERS) - Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro found herself in the middle of the media furore after she painted her fingernails in the colours of the rainbow flag in support of Russia's gay community.
Her act prompted pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva to deliver what some described as an anti-gay rant, branding Green Tregaro's action "disrespectful to our country".
Green Tregaro felt Isinbayeva had "destroyed her reputation" and confirmed that she had been asked by athletics officials not to repeat her gesture at women's high jump final on Saturday (August 17).
"I just wanted to show that I prefer a world where all love is accepted and where human beings can be whoever they want to be. And I still prefer that. So that's all I wanted to say," said Green Tregaro after finishing fifth in the women's high jump final..
Green Tregaro's discreet support on Thursday (August 15) during qualifying prompted Isinbayeva to condemn the Swede's gesture as disrespectful.
Isinbayeva, an ambassador for next year's Winter Olympics to be staged in theRussian Black Sea resort of Sochi, ignited a media storm by saying she supported the controversial law.
Isinbayeva backtracked the following day when she said she had been "misunderstood" after making her comments in English but Green Tregaro felt the damage had been done.
"I think she has destroyed her reputation in some countries at least and among many athletes, so that's a shame," Green Tregaro said. "I just really got very surprised by her opinion. But yes, that's her, and it's not what I believe in."
The legislation, which was passed in June, outlaws some aspects of the promotion of homosexuality and has become a political hot potato ahead of the Sochi Games, when it will apply to athletes and spectators.
Critics of the law have said it effectively disallows all gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals.
Sweden's athletics chief told journalists that Green Tregaro had been told her act violated the rules.
Green Tregaro added: "They asked me to please not paint my nails in rainbow colours. So I choose not to, to respect them and the rules. But I painted them red, and that's the colour of love for me, so I still have my opinion."
Green Tregaro became the second athlete at the world championships in Moscowto speak out against Russian anti-gay laws.
U.S. runner Nick Symmonds dedicated his silver medal in the men's 800 metres to his gay and lesbian friends. He also sharply criticised Isinbayeva's comments saying that the pole vault champion is far behind the free world.