Here's How Putin Celebrated His Birthday

Photo: Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo/AP.
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a trophy after his team won a match that was broadcast on national television.
Vladimir Putin is no stranger to public displays of strength and athleticism.

From shirtless fishing trips to martial-arts sessions, the Russian president, who holds a black belt in judo, is often photographed showing off his sporting skills.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Putin celebrated his 63rd birthday this week with an activity sure to break a sweat.

The president spent Wednesday competing in a nationally televised hockey match that also featured former NHL stars and Russian oligarchs, The New York Times and other outlets reported. The match marked the opening night of Russia's Night Hockey League, the Kremlin said.

Putin's team won 15-10, thanks in part to the seven goals scored by the president. Still, the performance, which drew cheers of "happy birthday" from the crowd, was not as strong as Putin's eight-goal appearance on the ice in May, according to The Guardian.

Putin told the players before the match that they encourage "millions of people in Russia to take up fitness and sport, not only hockey, but also athletics, gymnastics, shooting, all kinds of sport," according to a translated transcript provided by the Kremlin.

“Those who move forward and strive for victory will certainly achieve it," he said.

Putin also spent part of the day dealing with more serious matters.

Prior to the match, he met with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the country's military campaign in Syria, the Kremlin said. Russian warships fired 26 missiles into Syria on Wednesday as part of a coordinated attack with Syrian government troops on the ground, according to the Associated Press. Last week, Russia, which is allied with President Bashar al-Assad, launched its first strikes in the war that has been raging in Syria since 2011.
Photo: Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo/AP.
Russian President Vladimir Putin plays hockey to celebrate his 63rd birthday.

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