Russian Irina Rodnina, who lit the Olympic cauldron, blames racist tweet on hacked account

Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak light the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, Pool)

Irina Rodnina, the legendary Russian figure skater who lit the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony, apologized for a racist tweet regarding President Barack Obama and his wife.

Rodnina claimed her Twitter account was hacked.

Last year, a tweet appeared on Rodnina’s account that had a picture of the Obamas in the background and a banana in the foreground. When Rodnina was announced as the cauldron lighter, the tweet resurfaced – everywhere.

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At the time, Rodnina never explained the tweet. She never said she was hacked, never apologized and ultimately took the picture down. However, she sent another tweet later saying, "Freedom of speech is freedom!"

She’s talking about freedom for the person who hacked her account, right?

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On the surface, Rodnina was the perfect Russian athlete to light the cauldron. She won three gold medals for the former USSR in the 1972, 1976 and 1980 Olympics. She was considered one of the dominant skaters of her time.

However, not sure the backlash the choice has received since the cauldron lighting is the kind of publicity for which the Russians were hoping.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter!

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