MonteCarloIAAF President Lamine Diack spoke this morning of his sadness at the loss of 1964 Olympic High Jump champion Valeriy Brumel, who died in Moscow on Sunday after a long illness.
"I was very saddened to hear about the loss of Brumel, as he was one of my own heroes as an athlete. I remember him for his extraordinary straddle technique, as a great competitor but also as someone who was always charming and sportsmanlike. He was a great ambassador for Soviet athletics and will always be remembered as one of the greatest high jumpers in history."
As an 18-year-old, Brumel with a personal best of 2.17m, entered the 1960 Rome Olympics as a talented but relatively unknown athlete, but was only bettered by his Soviet team mate the Georgian Robert Shavlakadze, who took the gold with a first time clearance of 2.16m. Brumel needed two attempts to clear the same height, and so had to settle for the silver, but still clear of USA's World record holder John Thomas who took bronze (2.14m).
In the course of the following few years, Brumel broke the World record six times, with his leap of 2.28m in 1963 lasting as the world’s highest ever clearance until 1970.
In 1962, Brumel won the European title (2.21m) and in 1964 took the Olympic crown in Tokyo with an Olympic record of 2.18m, again defeating Thomas. This time the American lost on count back, after both jumpers failed to clear 2.20m in a competition which lasted nearly five hours.
Disaster struck in October 1965 when Brumel sustained severe leg injuries in a motorbike accident that effectively ended his career.