The greatest Romanian canoeist Ivan Patzaichin dies aged 71

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Latest news: Ivan Patzaichin ‘s body was laid down at the HQs of Dinamo Sports Club in Bucharest today at 12:00hrs. Numerous banners in remembrance of the former canoe champion have been put in front of the stadium.

Ivan Patzaichin will be buried with military honors at Bellu Cemetery in Bucharest on Tuesday. Funerals will start at 13:00hrs.

Ivan Patzaichin, the greatest Romanian canoeist, has died aged 71. He has been hospitalized at Elias Hospital in Bucharest for three months, due to some health issues that have worsened lately. He was suffering of a terminal illness which his family doesn’t want to talk about. Sources told media it was lung cancer.

His family has just posted a brief Facebook message announcing his death: “Ivan left and he is not coming back anymore”.

Subsequently, the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee (COSR) has also said: “A champion became a star. Ivan Patzaichin passed away (…) His story is a success one, a story of common sense and character. It is the story of a Danube Delta’s son who gave back tenfold and inspired people to leave beautifully. Apart from the shining medals, seven Olympic medals (four gold ones), those 21 world medals (nine gold ones), he was a generous and devoted person. Rest in peace, Ivan! You will forever stay in our hearts! May God rest him in peace. Condolences to the his family!”.

Ivan Patzaichin was a canoe racing coach after retiring. While being a sprint canoeist he took part in all major competitions between 1968 and 1984, including five consecutive Olympics, and won seven Olympic and 22 world championship medals, including four Olympic gold medals. This makes him the most decorated Romanian canoeist of all times. He later worked as a canoeing coach, attending five more Olympics in this capacity. In 1990 he was awarded the Olympic Order, and in 2006 a nationwide poll included him on the list 100 Greatest Romanians of all time.

Patzaichin was born in a Russian Lipovan family in the village Mila 23 in the Danube Delta, Tulcea county on November 26, 1949. His father Vicol was a fisherman and his mother Alexandra was a dressmaker. He took up canoeing at an early age inspired by his grandfather and decided to pursue a canoeing career.

Patzaichin won four gold medals at the Olympic Games, one in Ciudad de Mexico in 1968, one in Munich in 1972, then in 1980 (Moscow) and in1984 (Los Angeles), as well as three silver medals in 1980 (Moscow), in 1984 (Los Angeles) and one in 1972 (Munich).

He also had 22 medals at the World Championships (nine gold ones).

He retired from activity in 1984 and he became coach ad Dinamo Sports Club.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, the president of the International Olympic Committee awarded the Olympic Order Platinum Colan, being the only Romanian athlete holding this order.

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