- Alekseyev, Vasily Ivanovich
▪ Soviet athleteborn January 7, 1942, Pokrovo-Shishkino, Russia, U.S.S.R.Soviet superheavyweight weightlifter who between 1970 and 1978 set 80 world records and won two Olympic gold medals.Alekseyev was the son of a lumberjack and vodka distiller; at age 12 he was felling trees and lifting logs for exercise, and at age 14 he was wrestling woodsmen on even terms. He was already 1.8 metres (6 feet) tall and 90 kg (198 pounds) when he enrolled at the Forestry Institute in 1961 and was introduced to weights. In 1971 Alekseyev graduated from Novocherkassk Polytechnical Institute and became a mining engineer. In 1975 he became a member of the Communist Party and was awarded the Order of Lenin.Alekseyev began weightlifting competitively in 1961 but did not make significant progress until after 1965. His breakthrough came at the Soviet Junior Championships in January 1970 when he set four world records. He went on to collect 22 national and world titles. He became the first weightlifter to exceed 600 kg (1,322.8 pounds) for a three-lift total (clean and jerk, snatch, and clean and press) and the first to clean and jerk more than 500 pounds (226.8 kg) at the world championships in Columbus, Ohio. He held eight European titles (1970–75, 1977–78) and six world titles (1970–71, 1973–75, 1977) and won Olympic gold medals at Munich, West Germany (1972), and Montreal (1976). Had the press, one of Alekseyev's best lifts, not been eliminated from competition after 1972, he probably would have reached his career goal of 100 world records. In the 1978 world championship, however, he withdrew from competition because of an injury, and at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow he retired after failing to register a total. Far surpassing the achievements of earlier Russian big men Yury Vlasov and Leonid Zhabotinsky (Zhabotinsky, Leonid Ivanovich), Alekseyev is considered by many to be the greatest superheavyweight lifter of all time.
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