Vasily Ivanovich Alekseyev would have turned 75
On January 7th, the greatest weightlifter of our times would have been 75 years old.
The super heavyweight category weightlifter began practicing weightlifting at the age of 18; even so he reached outstanding accomplishments as a member of the Soviet Team he has two Olympics, eight- eight World and European Championships Medals. It was the beginning of a series of 80 world records Alekseyev set between 1970 and 1977.
During the best 8 years of his career, he won all national competitions in the men’s category +110 kg. Alekseyev’s 1972 world record for a combined lifting total of 645 kilograms still stands, as it can’t be beaten because one of the lifts has since been removed. The 186cm tall, 160kg giant who had long suffered heart problems died of a heart attack in 2011 at the age of 69 in a clinic in Germany; where he won his first Olympic Gold medal at the 1972 Munich Games.
In Montreal, Alekseyev’s clean-and-jerk, combined with his Olympic Record 185 kg in the
Snatch, gave him his second consecutive Olympic Gold in 1976.
The strongest man in the world – as Sports Illustrated magazine called him – failed to defend his Olympic title in Moscow in 1980 after being hampered in the snatch by an old injury.
He retired, but went on to coach a unified team of former Soviet weightlifters at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, where the team won ten medals – five golds.
The big Russian who popularized the sport was elected to the weightlifting Hall of Fame in 1993 by the IWF and voted as the all-time best sportsman of his country.
He lived quietly in Shakhty, located on the south-eastern spur of Donetsk mountain ridge, 75 kilometres northeast of Rostov-on-Don; and in the centre of the town next to the stadium there is a 5,6 m tall Vasily Alekseyev Statue.