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Yuri Ryazanov Killed in Car Accident
(19 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Russian Olympian and world medalist Yuri Ryazanov was killed in a car accident Tuesday on a Russian highway. He was 22.
Russian Olympian and world medalist Yuri Ryazanov was killed in a car accident Tuesday morning outside his hometown of Vladimir. He was 22.

Ryazanov won the all-around bronze medal Thursday at the world gymnastics championships in London, finishing behind Japan's Kohei Uchimura and Great Britain's Daniel Keatings.

According to reports, the accident occurred 160 km east of Moscow at 12:50 p.m., when Ryazanov was returning to his hometown of Vladimir following the world championships. Police believe he was killed instantly when he lost control of his car and swerved into oncoming traffic. His Chevrolet collided with an Audi, injuring two of its passengers.

Ryazanov had been Russia's most successful all-around gymnast the past few years, winning bronze medals at the European championships in 2007 and 2009. He won both of Russia's top domestic meets in 2009 — the Russian national championships in March and the Russian Cup in August.

"This is a human tragedy," Russian head coach Andrei Rodionenko said. "He was very good, kind, honest. The whole team respected him."

Ryazanov's shocked coaches and teammates spoke with the media, and said they were trying to piece together details of what could have caused the tragedy. The team returned to Moscow from London on Monday, and drove to the Round Lake national training center. Ryazanov had picked up his car at Round Lake and was driving home to Vladimir, 200 km (124 miles) east of the capital.

"I'm still stunned. I don't understand how this could happen. Yura was a great guy, kind, friendly, hard-working," teammate Maxim Devyatovsky said. "I do not understand why this happened to him, why God allowed this. He has driven for years, and everyone knew that he drove very quietly, calmly, without any foolishness. Yura was such a positive guy, that it is simply impossible [that he could have been drinking]. We talked with some guys from the junior team, and they claim they saw his Chevrolet recently and it was too low in the front. Maybe that was the cause? Although it is no longer important..."

Russian men's head coach Yevgeny Nikolko also spoke out against speculation that any alcohol was involved in the crash.

"Yura was a very good driver," Nikolko said. "I exclude the possibility that he would ever drink before getting behind the wheel. He was overall a very responsible and calm young man. This wonderful man had the whole world ahead of him.

Continued Nikolko, "I'm still in shock. When he told me he was going to drive home, I just told him, 'Please, be careful.' And now this terrible thing happened. I have no words to describe it."

Ryazanov was born March 21, 1987 in Vladimir, a city with a strong gymnastics tradition. He trained at the N. G. Tolkachov Olympic Reserve School, where he was coached by Igor Kalabushkin.

He joined Russia's senior national team in 2006, and later that year helped the team win silver at the 2006 World Championships, where he placed 16th all-around. He improved that rank at the 2007 Worlds, finishing 13th. He was a member of Russia's gold medal-winning team at the 2008 European Championships. His team placed sixth at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Ryazanov's bronze medal at the world championships Thursday, won in a close-fought men's all-around final, was the biggest achievement of his career. He qualified only eighth to the final, landing him in the second-seeded group that began on pommel horse. While several favorites faltered, Ryazanov's consistent performances moved him into medal contention. His fall on his high bar dismount in the fifth rotation was his only break of the day, but he followed it with a strong routine on floor exercise. His final score edged him past Japan's Kazuhito Tanaka by .1.

"Yesterday he returned to Moscow after the world championships, where he won the country's most distinguished medal — a medal in the all-around," the Russian Gymnastics Federation stated on its Web site in a brief announcement on his death. "Yet another day he tightly fought for his place on the podium, and we admired his skill, perseverance and tenacity."

Rodionenko said federation representatives will go to Vladimir to help Ryazanov's family prepare for the funeral.

Comments (19)add comment

Socal Gym said:

0
RIP YURI
Terrible. What a loss for gymnastics. Rest in peace.
 
October 20, 2009
Votes: +1

khushan said:

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...
so sad!
Big loos of gymnastics.Rest in peace.
 
October 20, 2009
Votes: +1

Gabriela said:

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...
What a terrible thing! Huge loss for the gymnastics community. He was so young and so talented. I can't believe this. Life can be so incredibly unfair sometimes...
Rest in peace, Yuri!
My heart goes to his family and friends.
 
October 20, 2009
Votes: +8

Martine said:

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...
OMG how sad. He had such a bright future. RIP Yuri Ryazanov 1987-2009... You will forever be a champion in our hearts.
 
October 20, 2009
Votes: +4

Kayla said:

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How awful! That's just shocking. My heart goes out to Yuri's family, friends, and teammates.
 
October 20, 2009
Votes: +6

A British Coach said:

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A classic gymnast in the true Russian style. Your work was beautiful and your name will live on through the gymnastics and friendships that you left. So sad to lose such talent so early.
 
October 20, 2009
Votes: +4

kerry said:

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omg this is so sad, my thoughts are with family and friends.

RIP xxx
 
October 20, 2009
Votes: +1

Nicki T. said:

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...
That's such a shocking thing to hear. My thoughts and prayers are with Yuri's family. smilies/sad.gif
 
October 20, 2009
Votes: +3

xmfg323x said:

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RIP Yuri
Awwww, he was a great gymnast. My favorite in the men's gymnastics too. Such a waste of good talent. RIP Yuri
 
October 20, 2009
Votes: +2

sad said:

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...
This is horrible. Heart breaking.
 
October 20, 2009
Votes: +2

ERANGA GUNASEKARA said:

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SO SAD LOSE THE ONE OF BEST GYMNAST IN THE WORLD..MY SYMPATHI GO TO HIS FAMILY AND HIS TEAM..
 
October 21, 2009
Votes: +0

xrysa said:

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...
so pity... so pity ! my heart is broken :-(
he was excellent athlete ! omg why ;
 
October 21, 2009
Votes: +2

KONSTANTIN KOLESNIKOV said:

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ASST. COACH UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, USA
Shocking… What a terrible tragedy. God does things for a reason which we do not understand sometimes… I just simply wish it would not happened to Yuri. He was big inspiration for many gymnasts in the world. We will pray for him and his family… Rest in peace Yuri.
 
October 21, 2009
Votes: +2

audie said:

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Devastating
This is devastating news. Such a young man with so much talent-gone too soon.

My heart goes out to Yuri's loved ones. RIPsmilies/cry.gif
 
October 21, 2009
Votes: +1

Vicki said:

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How very sad. Everyone was happy for him winning the bronze medal but how little medals matter in the big picture...
 
October 21, 2009
Votes: +0

sj1231 said:

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RIP YURI
God Bless his soul and his family. Rest in Peace
 
October 21, 2009
Votes: +2

IQ said:

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Life Cut Short
I watched the competition on the Universal Sports channel a couple nights ago and thought how hot and sexy and cute he looked and how much he was a great up-and-comer for the Russian gymnastics program which had been doing poorly for the past decade. Right after the telecast, they had an update and it was on him and it was such a tragic thing to hear. Only 22 years old.
 
October 28, 2009
Votes: +0

çizgi film izle said:

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çizgi film izle
so pity... so pity ! my heart is broken :-(
 
June 22, 2010 | url
Votes: +1

aleksei kevorkov said:

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sad loss
I'm more than heartbroken, im devastated....i got a tattoo on my wrist in his memory
 
August 23, 2010 | url
Votes: +1

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