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Australia-born track cyclist Perkins says excited to become Russian citizen

On August 17, Vladimir Putin signed a decree granting a Russian citizenship to Australian track cyclist Shane Perkins

MOSCOW, August 17. /TASS, Artyom Kuznetsov/. Receiving a citizenship of Russia, which could pave the way for entering the country’s national team for the 2020 Olympics in Japan, makes the dreams come true, Australian track cyclist Shane Perkins told TASS on Thursday.

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree earlier in the day granting a Russian citizenship to Perkins, who is two-time World Champion and 2012 Olympics bronze medalist. The decree signed by the Russian president stated "to grant the citizenship of the Russian Federation to Perkins Shane, born on December 30, 1986 in Australia."

"My emotions are unbelievable," Perkins said in an interview with TASS. "Right now I am the happiest person in the world."

"My dreams come true and I can change my dream for Tokyo. It is amazing," Perkins said. "Thank you - to Russian people and of course to Mr. Putin, for awarding me with this (citizenship) and I hope I can make all of Russia proud."

The 30-year-old Australian racer announced in February that the Russian Cycling Federation (RCF) offered him an opportunity of qualifying for the national team’s roster of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Asked by a TASS correspondent whether he would be speaking the Russian language, Perkins said that "My teammates are already teaching me quite a bit of Russian."

"Obviously it will take time but I plan to speak Russian in the future," the athlete added.

RCF Director General Yury Kucheryavy told TASS earlier on Thursday commenting on the new citizenship of the Australian track cyclist that Perkins would be able to officially debut for the Russian national team at the 2017 UEC Track European Championships in Berlin on October 19-22.

Perkins won bronze in sprint at the 2012 Olympics in London, won the World Championship twice (in 2011 and 2012) in addition his silver and bronze medals of the world championships, which he grabbed in 2010 and 2006 respectively.

He was not included in the Australian Olympic roster for the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.