Oleksandr Pielieshenko, the former Olympic weightlifter who competed for Ukraine in the 2016 Rio Olympics, has tragically been killed while serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces amidst the ongoing conflict with Russia. The National Olympic Committee of Ukraine announced his death in a poignant Facebook post, stating that Pielieshenko had been actively involved in defending his country since the onset of the full-scale invasion.

A prominent figure in weightlifting, Pielieshenko was celebrated for finishing fourth in the 85kg category at the 2016 Olympics and winning two European championships. His competitive career concluded in 2018 following a suspension due to a doping violation. His commitment to his country was highlighted by his immediate enlistment in the military at the start of the war, demonstrating his dedication beyond his athletic achievements.

His passing marks a somber milestone as he is recognized as the first Olympian from Ukraine to fall in the current conflict. This event underscores the ongoing debate about the participation of Russian athletes in international competitions, a topic of significant controversy especially considering the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Tributes have poured in from across the weightlifting community, reflecting the profound impact of his loss. The Ukrainian Weightlifting Federation honored him as an “honored master of sports of Ukraine,” and his former coach, Viktor Slobodianiuk, mourned the loss of a great talent, stating, “Heroes do not die,” a sentiment echoing the enduring spirit of Pielieshenko’s legacy.



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