Olympic champion David Khakhaleishvili dies aged 49

  • Georgia's Olympic gold medal winner David Khakhaleishvili. Photo: thesatorireport.com.

Agenda.ge, 11 Jan 2021 - 16:23, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia's Olympic champion David Khakhaleishvili, who became the first Georgian athlete to see the flag of the independent country raised in his honour at the Games, died aged 49 after a struggle with illness.

The judoka, who claimed gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, passed away after a cardiological surgery that followed a crowdfunding campaign launched by the Georgian National Olympic Committee for the treatment in October.

The campaign was for raising funds for a "complex and expensive" surgery, to be done on the former athlete abroad, the GNOC said at the time in its appeal to the sports community and wider public in Georgia for help in the funding.

Khakhaleishvili suffered from cardiomyopathy, a heart condition affecting the heart muscle and its ability to supply blood.

Placed under medical attention at the Emergency Cardiology Centre in Tbilisi while the campaign received donations, he was later moved for surgery to the Belarus capital of Minsk, but died after suffering from stroke following the treatment.

Khakhaleishvili became the first Olympic competitor from Georgia to have the newly independent country's anthem played in honour of his win in the global event, when he claimed the men's heavyweight category gold medal in judo at the Summer Games hosted in Barcelona.

Competing under the banner of the Unified Team, competitors from 12 former Soviet republics including Georgia still earned their medals on the backdrop of national flags and anthems at the 1992 Olympics.

The Georgian wrestler went on to earn the top step of the podium in two categories at the 1993 European Championships in Athens and one in the 1996 competition in The Hague, also earning a silver and a bronze at the World Championships in Hamilton in 1993 and another bronze in Chiba in 1995. The medals are part of his wider collection of silverware from world- and European-wide contests in the 1990s.