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Putin bids last respects to his demised first judo coach Rakhlin

Rakhlin has trained Vladimir Putin for 11 years
Photo ITAR-TASS / Mikhail Klimentyev
Photo ITAR-TASS / Mikhail Klimentyev

ST. PETERSBURG, August 9 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin bade the last farewells to his judo coach, Honorary Coach of Russia Anatoly Rakhlin, who died after a long heavy disease at the age of 75 years on August 7.

The mourning ceremony was held at the Judo Centre on Kondratyevsky Avenue in St. Petersburg. This building, which was erected in the 19th century, housed one of the oldest judo clubs and Rakhlin have trained young men, including Vladimir Putin, at this judo club for many years.

Putin laid down the flowers to the coffin and bowed to his deceased coach together with Rakhlin’s relatives. Putin asked the widow about the last days of life of his judo coach, who was his friend. Then the president went up to the coffin and bowed his head in memory of Rakhlin. After that he shook hands with his former sparring partners, who also came to pay the last respects to an outstanding coach.

Rakhlin’s death became a heavy loss for Putin. Giving the last tribute to his coach, the president decided to stay alone for some time. After the catafalque of his coach left the Judo Centre, the president started walking in the direction of Vatutin Street. Turning on this street, he gave a gesture to his security guards, numerous journalists and other accidental eyewitnesses to stop and was going absolutely alone on the street along a machine-building plant.

Rakhlin will be buried at the Kuzmolovskoye cemetery in the Leningrad region.

Putin said in a telegram of condolence before the mourning ceremony that he learnt about the death of the coach “with a feeling of deep sorrow.” “This is a big, irreparable loss for all of us,” the president noted. “Anatoly Solomonovich was a robust, strong-willed, smart and whole-hearted man, he was respected and loved by his colleagues and friends and, certainly, trainees, for whom Anatoly Solomonvich was a true teacher and a careful mentor in sports and life,” the president said. He said with confidence that the fair memory about the coach “will live forever in our hearts.”

Anatoly Rakhlin passed away after a long heavy disease at the age of 75 years. For half a century of training he raised more than 100 masters of sport. Rakhlin’s career as a coach began with the training of boys and he became the head coach of the Russian women’s national judo team in 2009. Under his supervision as a coach female judoists achieved tangible results at European and world championships and various international competitions.

Rakhlin has trained Vladimir Putin for 11 years. Rakhlin became Putin’s judo coach, when the latter was 13 years old and Putin was already granted the judo black belt at the age of 18 years. They were maintaining friendly relations until the death of the coach. Rakhlin and the Russian president met last time on May 30, 2013, when Putin congratulated his coach on his 75th birthday. The former judo trainee presented the watch with the number 75 engraved on it to the coach.

The book titled “In the First Person. Talks with Vladimir Putin” described how the future president got acquainted with Rakhlin, coming to the wrestling club in Leningrad. “This was a common sport hall, which belonged to the sport society Trud. There I had a very good coach - Anatoly Semenovich Rakhlin,” Putin recalled. The Russian leader attributes without determination a decisive role in his life to his coach. “If I had not been going in for sports, I do not know which turn my life would have taken. This is Anatoly Semenovich (Solomonovich) actually protected me from the influence of the groups of young people in the streets. Frankly speaking, the situation was far from being good there,” he noted.