Daily Mail 15th August 2009 By Julian Gavaghan http://www.dailymail.co.uk:80/news/...s-somebody-told-Mr-Putin-badminton-macho.html First he was pictured bare-chested while riding horse in rugged mountain landscape. Then, he and his friend Dmitry went for a boys’ night out – just the two of them. Now Russian PM Vladimir Putin, who likes to bill himself as a macho tough guy, has been showing off his skills in that most genteel of sports – badminton. Both he and his protégé, President Dmitry Medvedev, certainly looked well-practised today at keeping their shuttlecock up. While Mr Medvedev’s excitable golden retriever Aldo followed the plastic projectile across the court, the two powerful men both worked up a sweat. Afterwards they took time to relax while at the Bocharov Ruchei presidential residence in Sochi, Southern Russia, which is to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. Looking carefree in loose shirts and sunglasses, they took a stroll by the Black Sea shoreline Then they went for a spin in a golf buggy - and, contrary to claims Mr Putin, 56, is really the man in charge of Russia, the president was in the driving seat this time. Mr Medvedev, 43, who is tipped to stand aside at the next election so that Mr Putin can stand again for Russia’s, is nowadays rarely seen with him. There were fears that there had been a riff between the two men. The last couple of days in Sochi, where they are to soon host German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have been an attempt to prove otherwise. Last night they dropped into a sports cafe together to watch the Russian national team play Argentina. And, honing his alpha-male image a bit better than with badminton, former KGB spy Mr Putin was seen sipping beer and munching pistachios as he watched the game. While ex-businessman Mr Medvedev, who is more interested in the sport, stuck to tea and water. For their farewell, Mr Putin gave Mr Medvedev a bear-hug, making clear the premier was the senior partner in their relationship even though he holds the junior office. Mr Medvedev smiled for the cameras. But as he turned away, Russian TV noted his smile evaporated as he took the wheel of his off-roading jeep.