The Russian gymnast said to be Vladimir Putin’s lover said she had found her “ideal man” in a rediscovered interview.
Alina Kabaeva was first reported to be involved with the Russian president in 2008 when a Moscow-based newspaper first reported the romance.
Neither has ever confirmed the allegations, but back then, the athlete spoke publicly about a relationship she was in, without naming the Russian leader.
In the 2008 video, unearthed by the Mail Online, Ms Kabaeva, then aged 24, took questions from an audience of Russian schoolchildren and was quizzed about her love life.
“Have you met your ideal man?” a young boy asked her.
Ms Kabaeva paused for a few seconds then said: “I have met him.” She giggled before saying that she was “so happy”.
Another girl then asked who her boyfriend was.
“A man, a very good man, a great man,’ Ms Kabaeva said, adding: “I love him very much.”
Ms Kabaeva won a gold medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and became one of the most famous people in Russia. In 2006, she retired from gymnastics and became an MP for Putin’s United Russia party before becoming a director at a pro-Kremlin private media company, The National Media Group.
In 2008, Putin was married to his first wife, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya. The couple divorced in 2014.
In the video, Ms Kabaeva was also asked if she would ever steal a married man away from his wife and family.
“If a man is already looking at another woman and is already talking to her then the problem in the family has already happened,” she said. “In that case, there can be no good in that family.”
Asked about the last thing she gave her mystery man, Ms Kabaeva said she had gifted him: “An Alaska coat, a coat with fur, very beautiful”.
This week, The Project, a Russian opposition media outlet, reported that Ms Kabaeva, now aged 39, and Putin, 70, lived together in a secret palace which has a swimming pool and a sauna on the shores of Lake Valdai, 250 miles north-west of Moscow.
In May, Britain placed sanctions on Ms Kabaeva because of what the Foreign Office called her “close personal relationship” with Putin.