Yuriy Sedykh (© Getty Images)
World Athletics is saddened to hear that world hammer record-holder Yuriy Sedykh died on Tuesday (14) at the age of 66.
Across a 15-year span, Sedykh won three global titles, three European titles and broke the world record six times.
Born in 1955 in Novocherkassk, Sedykh took up athletics in 1967, initially training in Burevestnik and later in Kiev. Six years later, and coached by 1972 Olympic champion Anatoliy Bondarchuk, he landed his first major title by taking gold at the 1973 European U20 Championships in Duisburg.
Sedykh was just 20 years of age when he threw a world-leading 78.86m at the start of the 1976 season. He went on to win the Olympic title in Montreal with an Olympic record of 77.52m while his coach, Bondarchuk, took bronze.
Sedykh successfully defended his Olympic title on home soil in Moscow in 1980 and remains one of just three men to win back-to-back Olympic titles in the hammer.
He won three consecutive European titles between 1978 and 1986, the latter in a memorable duel with training partner Sergey Litvinov in Stuttgart.
Litvinov broke Sedykh’s championship record in the first round with 85.74m, but Sedykh responded with a world record of 86.74m in the fourth round. Five of Sedykh’s six throws from that competition landed beyond 85 metres; his shortest throw that day was 83.94m.
“On that day, everything came together: my mood, my physical fitness, my ambition, the competition, the sector, the fans and the weather,” Sedykh told European Athletics.
Sedykh took silver behind Litvinov at the 1988 Olympics, but his throw of 83.76m was by far his best mark ever achieved in an Olympic arena.
He won his first and only world title at the age of 36 when he struck gold at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, throwing 81.80m. Despite having a best of 82.18m in 1992, he narrowly missed out on selection for what would have been his fourth Olympic Games.
He competed internationally until the mid-1990s, recording his final 80-metre throw in 1994. Although he continued to enter competitions as a veteran, coaching became his main focus once he retired from the sport.
Sedykh married 1980 Olympic 100m champion Lyudmila Kondratyeva, with whom he had a daughter, Oksana, who became an international-level hammer thrower. Sedykh later married world shot put record-holder Natalya Lisovskaya and together they had a daughter, Alexia, the 2010 Youth Olympic hammer champion.
World Athletics Senior Vice President Sergey Bubka paid tribute to Sedykh. “For me, Yuriy was a friend, a wise mentor, to whom I am deeply grateful that we shared life experience and human values,” said Bubka.
“He was an outstanding two-time Olympic champion, whose fantastic world record is still not broken after 35 years. My sincere condolences to Natalya, Alexia, the whole family and the sports community. We will always remember Yuriy.”