Ukrainian Olympic Weightlifter Killed While Fighting in War Against Russia

Stringer/Getty Images
Stringer/Getty Images

Two-time European weightlifting champion Oleksandr Pielieshenko died fighting for his home country of Ukraine in its war with Russia, the Ukrainian Weightlifting Federation said Monday. He was 30 years old.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that today the heart of the honored master of sports of Ukraine, two-time European weightlifting champion Oleksandr Pielieshenko, stopped beating,” the UWF wrote in Ukrainian on its Facebook page.

Pielieshenko won the 2016 and 2017 European weightlifting titles in the men’s 85-kg class and competed in the 2016 Olympics, finishing just off the podium in fourth place.

The powerhouse athlete had enlisted in the army in the early days of the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian Olympic Committee said in a statement mourning him.

Viktor Slobodianuk, the Ukrainian national weightlifting coach, added his tribute as well, saying Pielieshenko died “heroically” while defending Ukraine from foreigners.

“War takes the best of us,” Slobodianuk wrote on Facebook. “I express my sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Alexander! This is a very heavy loss for the entire heavyweight community of Ukraine.”

“Heroes do not die.”

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