- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Judo-loving Vladimir Putin wants to bring his penchant for all things physical to school children, via a return to Soviet-era fitness requirements for all students.

Reigniting the GTO — the Russian acronym for Ready for Labor and Defense — would teach kids “to stand up for themselves, their family and, in the final run, the Fatherland,” he said, in a report from The Telegraph. GTO was created in 1931 under Joseph Stalin. The program mandated that all school-age children, from lower levels through university, pass physical fitness tests that were initially aimed at preparing youth for service in the Red Army.

Over the years, the testing lost prestige, until it finally fell with the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1991, The Telegraph reports.

Mr. Putin sees the need for its resurrection.

Russia’s youth are “significantly worse” in terms of physical fitness than children of just a few decades past, he said, in The Telegraph.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said his agency would have new physical fitness standards to implement in schools by 2016.

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