YEREVAN—Legendary Armenian weightlifting champion Yuri Vardanyan, who won a gold medal at the 1980 Olympics died Friday in the United States at 62.
Armenia’s Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Gabriel Ghazaryan confirmed the news saying that Vardanyan died of long illness.
As a weightlifter, Vardanyan reached numerous heights by winning World and European championships throughout late 1970s through the 1980s. He won gold at the 1980 summer Olympics He earned the title Honored Master of Sports of the USSR in 1977 and was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1985. In 1994 he was elected member of the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame.
He became the world’s first weightlifter to achieve a 400 kilogram total in the 82.5 kg weight category. In 1985 alone, he set 43 world records.
Years later after retiring from sports, he began a career in politics.
In 2009, President of Armenia Serzh Sarkisian appointed Vardanyan as his advisor. After four years in office, he was appointed minister of sports and youth affairs, a position he held only for a year. From 2014 to 2017 he served as Armenia’s Ambassador to Georgia.
Ghazaryan was joined by Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, President Armen Sarkissian and former president Sarkisian in offering condolences to what they called an national hero.