In an apparent a clear snub to President Barack Obama, Russia chose a politician and former Olympian who publicly made a racist joke about Obama and the first lady to light the torch for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Irina Rodnina, who lit the torch, tweeted a picture in the fall that appeared to show the first couple staring longingly at a banana while attending a basketball game. The tweet was sent without comment, and deleted after American officials grew angry. Still, she refused to apologize for the incident.
In addition to being the 2014 Winter Olympics torch lighter, Rodnina is “a member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia [party] and a three-time Olympic champion,” The Hill reports. “She lit the torch with Vladislav Tretiak, a former goal-keeper for Russia’s national ice hockey team and also a three-time gold medalist.”
She was also joined by Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast who is rumored to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s girlfriend. (RELATED: This is Vladimir Putin’s extremely flexible girlfriend [PHOTOS])