Race walking great Vladimir Golubnichiy (© Getty Images)
World Athletics is deeply saddened to hear that Ukraine’s race walking great Vladimir Golubnichiy (Volodymyr Holubnychy), who won two Olympic titles during his highly successful career, died on Monday (16) at the age of 85.
Born in Sumy on 2 June 1936, Golubnichiy went on to become a dominant force in the 20km race walk in the 1960s and 1970s, competing at five Olympic Games and winning four medals.
He set his first world 20km race walk record in 1955 aged just 19, but was unable to make his Olympic debut the following year due to a serious liver infection. Four years later he would win his first gold on his debut in Rome.
It took him a year to fully recover from that liver infection, but in 1958 Golubnichiy clocked 1:27.05 in Simferopol to regain the world record and that would remain the record mark for almost 11 years.
Despite being the world record-holder, Golubnichiy was not the favourite to claim gold at the Rome Olympics, but he took the lead just before the halfway point and went on to gain gold in 1:34:08.
He added another medal to his collection in 1964, claiming Olympic bronze in Tokyo despite suffering headaches during the race and a fall, and two years later he won the second of his three European medals - silver in Budapest after bronze in Belgrade in 1962.
His third Olympic appearance came in Mexico City and there he held off the local hope Jose Pedraza to win by just three metres and gain his second Olympic gold.
Golubnichiy completed the set of Olympic medals when securing silver at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, but gained another gold medal in Rome in 1974 when he won his first European title.
He competed at his fifth and final Olympics in Montreal in 1976, finishing seventh.