18 photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin playing sports

Last weekend, Russian President Vladimir Putin scored 8 goals in a ice hockey game.

Though it may seem strange to audiences outside of Russia, the 62 year-old’s macho posturing is all part of the image that he has carefully cultivated through state propaganda since taking over the presidency from Boris Yeltsin at the turn of the new millennium.

So far, it has proven a successful way of presenting his tough-guy image at home and earned him his own fan club (including his very own pop song).

Putin having fun during his team's 18-6 victory in the gala match of the National Amateur Ice Hockey Teams' Festival organised by the Night Ice Hockey League in Sochi, Russia.

Not all his chosen sports are of the extreme variety. Putin can be seen enjoying a spot of bowling with First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov in 2007.

Or taking on then-President (now Prime Minister) Dmitry Medvedev on the badminton court.

He's also keen on outdoor activities. Here a topless Putin rides a horse through southern Siberia's Tuva region in August, 2009 ...

... and takes a quick dip in a lake ...

President Vladimir Putin

... before heading off to do some fishing.

Sometimes he chases bigger prey, however. Here Putin fires darts designed to take skin samples with a crossbow at an endangered grey whale from a motorboat in Olga Bay in the Sea of Japan.

Or even tigers. Here he is with a tranquilliser gun as he visits the academy of sciences Ussuri reserve.

It came in handy as he reportedly saved a TV crew travelling with him from a Siberian tiger.

Treasure hunting is also a hobby. Here's Putin in 2011 as he prepares to dive at an archaeological site off the Taman peninsular in southern Russia.

Success! Putin came back with two 6th Century amphorae recovered during his dive (although he later admitted they had been placed there for him to 'find').

Oh, and with Russian winters skiing is always a popular activity. Below Putin (L) sits on a chair lift during a visit to the 'Laura' cross country ski and biathlon centre in the Krasnaya Polyana resort near Sochi.

The former KGB agent takes time off to practice his shooting at a firing range at the GRU military intelligence headquarters in Moscow.

And he also keeps up with new technology, such as this model assault rifle Putin was spotted practicing with at an electronic shooting range.

Motorised sports are no problem either. Below Putin test drives a Renault Formula One team car at a racing track in Leningrad region in 2010.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Actually both. Putin stares down a crane as he sits in a motorised deltaplane at Yamalo-Nenets district in 2012.

And he is no stranger to flying. Back in 2000 Putin paid an unscheduled visit to Chechnya on Monday when he flew in to the rebel region in a Sukhoi-27 fighter jet.

See also ...

Russia's Fyodor Tyutin collides with Canada's John Tavares (top) during their quarter-final match at the Ice Hockey World Championships in Bratislava May 12, 2011.

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