Wednesday Jul 26 19:14 AEST
Former Olympic pole vault finalist Viktor Chistiakov has turned his back on Australia to compete again for his native Russia.
The 31-year-old Chistiakov, better known as the ex-husband of Tatiana Grigorieva, gained Australian citizenship in the late 1990s after winning the 1993 world junior title for Russia.
His best result in the green and gold came when he finished fifth at the Sydney Olympics with a clearance of 5.80m.
But Chistiakov was unable to deliver on his undoubted talent at subsequent major championships.
He missed selection for the 2004 Athens Olympics when former world champion Dmitri Markov claimed the third spot in the Australian squad alongside Steve Hooker and Paul Burgess.
Midway through 2004, Grigorieva revealed that their marriage was over.
Chistiakov has spent the past three years living and training in Europe, although he had told Athletics Australia (AA) late last year he wanted to compete at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
But he missed the 2005-06 Australian summer season through injury, with Markov, Burgess and eventual Commonwealth gold medallist Hooker again claiming the positions on the Games team.
Chistiakov wrote to AA recently, stating his wish to again compete for Russia.
“He’s moved back to Russia permanently. He’s applied to be released back to Russia and we won’t stand in his way,” AA chief executive Danny Corcoran told AAP.
"He’s an athlete coming towards the end of his career and we certainly wouldn’t hold him up.
"We discussed it internally, we spoke to (AA national performance manager) Max Binnington and said `what do you think?’
“The general consensus was that Viktor was going home after living here for a period of time and we didn’t want to stand in his way.”
Chistiakov will be eligible to compete for Russia from late next month, as that will mark the three-year anniversary since he last represented Australia at the 2003 Paris world championships.
Chistiakov returned to competition at last week’s grand prix meet in Greece, clearing 5.50m to finish third behind Aleksander Averbukh of Israel.
He has a personal best of 5.90m set in 1999.
Russia is a traditional pole vaulting powerhouse, although it currently has no men in the top 15 on the IAAF world rankings.