Surf star brushes ‘playboy’ nudes
Russian Olympic champion Angelika Timanina describes her goal to be the next Maria Sharapova of mega-rich brand ambassadors - and she's well on her way.
The 30-year-old gold medallist is preparing to make her Olympic comeback at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics - almost nine years after she famously led Russia to gold in the team synchronised swimming event at the London 2012 Games.
The fact that she is doing it in a completely different sport is almost an afterthought to Timanina's story.
Since retiring from synchronised swimming in 2016, her surfing career has enjoyed a meteoric rise, culminating in her selection in Russia's squad for the Tokyo Games this year before it was delayed 12 months as a result of the global coronavirus restrictions.
Since leaving synchronised swimming, Timanina has balanced her surfing career while expanding her popularity on Instagram in search of the riches that come with her potential as a desirable brand ambassador.
With more than 160,000 followers on Instagram, Timanina has emerged as one of the most marketable athletes in Russia - and she is using that fame to chart a specific course towards luxury brands and high-end retailers, just as Sharapova did when she set a record as the highest earning female athlete, according to Forbes, for 11 straight years.
Even when suspended for testing positive to a banned substance, Sharapova stayed as one of the top 10 earning female athletes on the planet in 2018 and 2019 - with endorsement deals worth almost $AUD16 million.
It is those types of numbers that have made Timanina so serious about her Instagram image.
It's also why she says she's knocked back offers to do Playboy-style nude photo shoots.
It is all part of her plan to join Sharapova.
"When I left the sport (synchronised swimming), I began a much more active public life and socially," she said this week, according to rt.com.
"I graduated from commentary courses at Ostankino (a TV presentation school in Moscow), hired a PR representative and set out to be recognised in Russia.
"I wanted to become a media personality so I could make money from it. It worked. Now my main income is advertising shoots and Instagram."
More than recognised, Timanina wants to be seen as a symbol of luxury - which is why she continues to turn down risque photo shoot offers.
"Of course (she gets asked to take her clothes off). But my goal from the very beginning was different," Timanina said.
"I wanted to become like the 'Maria Sharapova' of synchronised swimming, cover the luxury sector, brands like Dior and Armani.
"But luxury brands will never work with a girl who has done naked shoots for the cover of Playboy."
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У меня сегодня такое хорошее настроение, что пусть я буду невестой в вашей ленте 😹👰🏼 Вчера вечером, когда я уже практически ложилась спать, мне на почту пришло письмо с результатом теста на covid-19, который я ждала весь день. Я усиленно лечилась, соблюдала постельный режим, пила витамины и надеялась на лучшее. Когда поднялась температура 38,1 и жутко разболелось горло - я немного приуныла, но взяла себя в руки и начала пить антибиотики. На следующий день я сразу пошла на поправку и сегодня я чувствую себя отлично, как будто и не болела вовсе 👊🏻🙌🏻 Осталось долечить горло, и я буду как огурчик 👋🏻 Результат моего теста на коронавирус - отрицательный ❌‼️ видимо, просто застудила горло в тот первый снежный день в Мск. ☃️ Друзья, спасибо всем огромное за вашу поддержку, вы не представляете, как я благодарна каждому из вас ! 🔗 Благодаря этой ситуации я поняла, что мы все есть друг у друга 🙏🏻🌍 Люблю вас сильно и от души ♥️🙌🏻 Берегите себя, не болейте и давайте будем верить в лучшее ! Всё будет хорошо ! ✋🏻 #скажиНЕТкороне
It's the tightrope Timanina has negotiated in recent years while also repeatedly stunning fans with raunchy photos of her out in the surf or during some of her many fashion shoots.
She says surfing ties in perfectly with the image she wants to sell - and just happens to also be something she loves doing.
Four years after first getting serious about surfing, she is pushing for a chance to take her brand global again when surfing debuts at the Olympics next year.
"Initially, I understood that in life there should be something other than synchronised swimming," she told RT earlier this month.
"So I thought in advance what I would do when I finished performing.
"I ended up at my first (surfing) World Cup last year almost by accident, I went there as a reserve.
"In the end I was selected for the national team in first place, despite the fact I was competing with people who had been surfing for 10 or even 20 years.
"If it wasn't for the coronavirus, it's uncertain how everything would have turned out.
"Of course I'd like to get to the Games - I've always dreamed of going to Japan.
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Меня бесит безответственность. Когда ты договариваешься о чём-то, строишь планы, меняешь маршруты, а тебе в итоге говорят слово “нет”. Хотя было слово “да“. Просто передумали люди, договорились обо всём, а потом передумали. Обидно и смешно. Смешно, потому что ты уже перевернула всё с ног на голову. А обидно, потому что ты дура. 🔪🥺
"Surfing has opened up a whole new world for me: freedom, the ocean, the sun, you're on the wave, alone with nature.
"No one is standing above you with a stick (like in synchronised swimming). I realised that this is exactly what I needed."
The joy of surfing came after Timanina was forced to retire from her first love in the pool when a series of injuries forced her to pull out of the 2016 Olympics - retiring at the age of 26.
Having captained the Russian team to the gold medal in 2012, she is hoping another shot at the podium next year could be her ticket to even more fame.