October 20, 2009 / 1:47 PM / in 10 years

Russia's Ryazanov dies in car crash

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian gymnast Yury Ryazanov was killed in a car crash on Tuesday, five days after winning a bronze medal at the world championships, police said.

Gold medallist Kohei Uchimura of Japan is flanked by silver medallist Daniel Keatings (L) of Britain and bronze medallist Yury Ryazanov of Russia during the medal ceremony of the men's individual all-round final of the Gymnastics World Championships at the O2 Arena in London October 15, 2009. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Ryazanov was driving on a highway to his home city of Vladimir, around 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of Moscow, when his car collided head on with another vehicle, a Russian gymnastics federation spokeswoman said. He died at the scene.

The 22-year-old had just returned home from the world gymnastics championships in London where he finished third in the all-around competition to claim Russia’s first medal in the top individual event in a decade.

Ryazanov was one of Russia’s most promising gymnasts, winning this year’s national all-around title and finishing third at the European championships in Milan.

“This is very tragic news for Russian gymnastics,” federation spokeswoman Natalia Kalugina said.

“He was one of our most talented young athletes who could have achieved many great things for our sport.”

Russia’s head men’s gymnastics coach Yevgeny Nikolko was devastated by the news.

“I’m still in shock,” he told All Sport news agency. “When he told me he was going to drive home I just told him ‘Please, be careful’. And now this terrible thing happened. I have no words to describe it.”

Russia’s overloaded roads are treacherous, with around 30,000 people dying in road accidents in the country last year according to official figures.

(Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by Sonia Oxley)

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