The athletics world is mourning the death of Russian long distance great Pyotr Bolotnikov at the age of 83 on Friday night (20).
Born 8 March, 1930, in the Mordovian town of Zinovkino, Bolotnikov got the first of his 13 USSR national titles in 1957 when he won the 10,000m, causing a stir when he beat his fellow Soviet legend Vladimir Kuts, who was the world record-holder at the time.
At the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Bolotnikov hit the front with 700 metres to go and uncorked a last lap of 57.4 before crossing the line in an Olympic record of 28:32.2, less than two seconds outside Kuts’ world record of 28:30.4.
He was to improve that mark to 28:18.8 later in 1960 at the USSR Team Championships in Kiev and reduced the world record further to 28:18.2 at the 1962 USSR Championships in Moscow.
He won the 1962 European 10,000m title but was surprisingly beaten into third place in the 5000m in Belgrade.
Bolotnikov retired from international athletics in 1965 and became a well-known coach in the former USSR.