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Yuri Ryazanov Laid to Rest in Vladimir
(20 votes, average 4.80 out of 5)

Russian national champion Yuri Ryazanov was buried Thursday in his hometown, one week after he won the all-around bronze medal at the world championships in London.


Yuri Ryazanov at the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships in London.

Friends, family and community members paid their respects to Russia's top gymnast, who was killed in an automobile accident Tuesday afternoon on a highway outside Vladimir. He was 22.

Following an open-casket service in the Orthodox tradition, a funeral procession of cars and buses continued to the Ulybyshevskoe Cemetery, where Ryazanov was buried with honors in the city's Walk of Fame. He was laid to rest next to Olympic champion skier Alexei Prokurorov, who was killed in an auto accident in October 2008.

Friends say they are still in a state of shock over Ryazanov's death, while police have launched a full investigation into the accident.

Ryazanov had been driving to his hometown of Vladimir after returning to Moscow from the world championships in London, which concluded Sunday. At 12:40 p.m. Tuesday, his car crossed the highway and collided head-on with an oncoming car. The occupants suffered minor injuries, but Ryazanov was killed instantly.

"[That he did not suffer] is probably the only consolation," said Vitaly Akimov, director of the Vladimir gymnastics school where Ryazanov began the sport.

Akimov said Tuesday was initially filled with joy and excitement, as gymnasts decorated the gym with posters of congratulations in anticipation of their star's return. Ryazanov's bronze in London was the Russian men's first world all-around medal in 10 years.

"Nobody at our club believed it at first," Akimov told newspaper "Komsomolskaya Pravda" of hearing the news. "Everyone thought it was somebody's idea of a stupid joke. Only after we called the police did we understand it was all true."

The school received messages of condolences from around the world, including England, Japan, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and the U.S., Akimov said.

Investigators said they are focusing at this point on three possible theories of what caused the accident: that a tired Ryazanov fell asleep at the wheel; that he suffered a medical crisis that left him dizzy or unconscious; or that there was a mechanical failure of the automobile. Blood tests revealed he had not been drinking, and the weather was sunny at the time.

Those who knew Ryazanov well say it was impossible he could have fallen asleep while driving, and that something must have gone wrong with the car to make him to lose control of the vehicle.

"He was the most responsible on the national team," Olympian Georgy Grebenkov said. "From what I know, he flew to Moscow on Monday. But he didn't go straight to Vladimir. Instead he decided to sleep first."

Gymnast Timur Kuzmin said that 10 minutes before the accident, he spoke with Ryazanov, who told him, "I'll be there soon!"

Ryazanov touched on the subject of driving in his final interview.

"When I was 17, I got a motorcycle license and a year later I got a full license," he told "Izvestia" Monday. "My first car was a 1999 Lada. Ouch, I taught myself with it. That's why I knew the best autoshops and where they had the best prices for repair. And now for two years I've been driving a Chevrolet with Korean parts, and it hasn't needed any repairs. By the way, my most positive experience with Russian automotive technology was riding a 1978 'Minsk' motorcycle when I was on vacation... the engine didn't overheat even once!"

Ryazanov had planned to take Tuesday off, and return to training on Wednesday in Vladimir with his long-time coach, Igor Kalabushkin. He had been excited about his future, he said, and spoke of staying positive during his medal-winning run in London.

"The final started badly," he said of Oct. 15's all-around competition. "After my pommel horse routine the judges deliberated for a long time [because of a mistake on my dismount]. As a result, it reduced my A-score by .9. I was 21st of the 24 finalists. I was ashamed almost to tears. But I calmed down and I realized that I had nothing to lose. I said to myself, 'Yuri, don't give up, this is not your last worlds, try to look dignified.' After that I decided to add more difficulty on the remaining five events. And although I had another mistake [on high bar], it was enough to win a medal in the end."

A video clip and a photo gallery of the funeral service can be found at Komsomolskaya Pravda Vladimir's Web site.

External Link: Yuri Ryazanov Fan Page on Facebook

Comments (8)add comment

Martine said:

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RIP. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has felt sick over this.

Nikolai Andrianov crying



This was touching



Rest in peace, Yuri. We will never forget you.
 
October 22, 2009
Votes: +5

Sonjia said:

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Rest in peace. We love you.
 
October 22, 2009
Votes: +1

Brechtje said:

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RIP....smilies/sad.gif Incredibly sad...

Do they carry his London medal in that picture?
 
October 22, 2009
Votes: +0

Han said:

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im shocked, what a tragedy, rest in peace!
awesome gymnast will be sadly missed by all gymnasts and fans!
 
October 22, 2009
Votes: +2

Jeroen said:

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Yes, they are carrying red pillows with his medals on them. You can see this better in a video on the facebook page.
 
October 22, 2009
Votes: +0

Kristin said:

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RIP
No Martine, you're not the only one. I'm sick too... Most of all because it was so unessecary, but also because he looks so much like a friend of mine I feel very much for, and I didn't even got to see the Worlds at all...
 
October 23, 2009
Votes: +1

escort bayan said:

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escort bayanlar
thanks so much all admin Yes, they are carrying red pillows with his medals on them. You can see this better in a video on the facebook page
 
April 18, 2010 | url
Votes: +0

Sheng said:

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Rest in peace, wonderful gymnast to be missed
 
January 12, 2011
Votes: +0

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