'Superman' Putin adds to reputation with eight goals in ice hockey match
He has previously displayed his prowess as a judo champion, bareback horseman and scuba-diving marine archaeologist, among other things.
Now Vladimir Putin can add ice hockey match-winner and Roman emperor to his list of public personas.
In the latest display of his apparently superhuman ability, the Russian president scored eight goals in an exhibition ice-hockey match with retired stars of the sport.
The game in Sochi, part of an amateur league night dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War for Russia, was aired on television ahead of Russia's crushing 4-0 defeat of the United States in a world championship semi-final in Prague.
The president's team won 18-6, with Mr Putin (62) scoring off assists by the retired NHL stars Pavel Bure and Valeri Kamensky.
Suggestions that the opposition took it easy on Russia's most powerful man were, of course, pure conjecture.
His match-winning performance came as members of the St Petersburg Cossacks displayed Mr Putin in an even more heroic guise: that of Roman emperor.
Designed by the St Petersburg artist Pavel Greshnikov, the bust shows Mr Putin in a toga and breastplate striking a pose more associated with Julius Caesar.
Mr Greshnikov reportedly settled on the Roman outfit after experimenting with different looks, including knight's armour.
Andrey Polyakov, the ataman or Cossack leader who came up with the idea, said Mr Greshnikov had also cast a laurel wreath to complete the outfit, but the Cossacks turned it down as a bit over the top.
"This way he is still ours, Russian, but with the wreath he would have been completely Roman," Mr Polyakov told Nevsky Novosti, a local news website.
The statue unveiled yesterday is a temporary model made of synthetic materials which will later be replaced with a large, bronze version at a Cossack village being built in at Agalatovo, north of St Petersburg. (© Daily Telegraph, London)