It is difficult to fathom why an Australian cyclist, any Australian for that matter, would want to flee the friendly confines of Down Under and defect to Russia, but that is exactly the course taken by Shane Perkins.
Perkins has been granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin, who has been vastly dismayed by the lack of competent Russian cyclists.
It is now possible that Perkins will be wearing the colours of the former hammer and sickle Asian country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, although he is already 30 and might be considered a bit long in the tooth for track cycling glory. Perkins was not able to earn a medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics; in fact, he could not even qualify for the team.
Perkins was in Saint Petersburg, Russia for the Russian National Championships in mid-August, when he sought and was granted citizenship.
Perkins’ move is difficult to fathom, as there is nothing suggesting any ties to Russia. He was born in Melbourne.
It has been suggested that Perkins’ training partner Denis Dmitriev was instrumental in convincing Perkins that defecting to Russia would give Perkins a good chance of competing in Tokyo.
Perkins has been a successful cyclist in the past, with emphasis on the word past. He won a bronze medal in the London Olympics in 2012 and had won gold in the keirin event of the 2011 World Championships.
Hopefully, his path through Russia will not end in the same result that caused the entire Russian track and field team to be banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Perkins took to Twitter to reveal his euphoria over escaping the oppressive yolk of Australian democracy for a less oppressive totalitarian regime by saying, “I’m the most excited guy in the world right now! I can make my dreams come true!
If he cannot make a go of it in Russia, perhaps he could land a spot on the Antarctica cycling squad.