The head coach of Russia’s women’s volleyball team was found hanged in his hotel room in Croatia after a disappointing Olympics performance.
Sergey Ovchinnikov, 43, was at a training camp in Croatia with his team Dynamo Moscow when the tragedy occurred, according to local media.
The club’s staff went to Mr Ovchinnikov’s room after he missed breakfast and found him hanging.
Russian Volleyball Federation director general Aleksandr Yeremenko confirmed the news of his death, but said he was unable to provide any further details.
Former Russia coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin speculated the alleged suicide may have been a reaction to the poor showing of the Russian women’s volleyball team at the 2012 London Olympics.
‘This is so stupid,’ Mr Kuzyutkin told RSN radio station. ‘He was my friend, my colleague. No one said a bad word about him. Yes, there was a blunder at the Olympics, well, to hell with it.’
Mr Ovchinnikov’s team entered the Games as one of the favourites but missed out on medals, losing 3-2 in the quarter-finals to eventual champions Brazil.
The head coach of the men’s volleyball team, Vladimir Alekno, confirmed that the London failure was a huge blow for Mr Ovchinnikov, RT.com reported.
‘He took the Olympics very personally,’ said Mr Alekno. ‘I saw what he was going through and how upset he was after the defeat. He didn’t talk much. Even after victories he was always thinking about something and smoked a lot.’
Another reason behind the possible suicide may be health problems. Sovetsky Sport reported that Mr Ovchinnikov had recently been suffering from bad headaches.
The cause of death has not been officially announced, with the Russian embassy in Croatia is awaiting confirmation from local authorities.
‘The information we have is from Russian sources only,’ embassy press secretary Boris Pavlov told Interfax. ‘Croatian colleagues haven’t reached out for us yet. So the circumstances of the incident aren’t clear to us yet.’
The coach will be buried in the Russian city of Yaroslavl, where his wife and two children live.
Mr Ovchinnikov led the country’s student squad to bronze at the 2011 Universiade, and was asked to coach the national team the same year.
Under his leadership, Russia progressed to London 2012 and earned the first slot in the world qualifiers.