[Presenter Yelizaveta Listova] Today's breaking news concerns the present made by President Vladimir Putin to a sports school in the village of Sapozhok, Ryazan Region. Putin gave them a tatami - a mat used in judo, new kimonos and other sports equipment. It is interesting that young judo fans in Sapozhok are being coached by Father Oleg, the priest in the local Orthodox church.
Our Ryazan correspondent Marina Kalyayeva will tell about the harmony of body and spirit, and about the union of Orthodoxy and Buddhism in Sapozhok.
[Correspondent] The village of Sapozhok has the church of St Nicholas. Father Oleg is the priest in this church.
Apart from serving in the church, Father Oleg teaches children in a Sunday school. Besides the Bible, the subjects taught include sambo [Russian-invented unarmed combat style] and judo.
Oleg Kuzmin used to be a professional sportsman. He graduated from the Chelyabinsk Institute of Physical Culture in 1998. At that time he could not imagine that his life would make a sharp turn soon. He worked in Magadan and once brought his elderly grandmother to a church. There he entered a conversation with the local priest. The priest gave him religious literature and told him at the end of the meeting: Prepare to become a priest soon.
Upon reflection, Oleg realized that he had found his way in life. Soon the Sapozhok church got a new priest. Father Oleg organized the Sunday school two years ago. Children were happy to attend it at first, but later turned shy and stopped coming - their mates would mock them by calling them monks and priests. The school was getting empty. The young priest found his own method for getting the pupils back. He started teaching them judo and sambo.
Father Oleg says that not only he tills the garden of children's soul, but also strengthens their bodies. Children resumed attending the classes. Soon Father Oleg encountered the problem of an acute lack of sporting equipment. At this point help arrived, not quite divine, but certainly from the above - the capital.
The presidential envoy to the Central Federal District, Georgiy Poltavchenko, visited Sapozhok. He was told about the local coach-priest.
A couple of days ago presents from the presidential administration arrived in the village. The packages contained kimonos and a tatami. Father Oleg is now thinking about hiring an assistant. His status does not allow him to practise the martial art on the mat. The construction of the Sunday school building will start this spring. Its second level will accommodate a sports hall, Father Oleg and his pupils envisage.
Source: Ekho Moskvy radio (TV6), Moscow, in Russian 1200 gmt 31 Jan 02
"Russia's Putin presents tatami to judo school headed by village priest." BBC Monitoring International Reports 31 Jan. 2002. Academic OneFile. Web. 17 Dec. 2009.
United States Judo Association - USJA
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