A truly saddening news story broke this weekend on August 20th, as +105kg Bulgarian/Azerbaijani weightlifter Velichko Cholakov was confirmed to have passed away. The new’s report from Sofia News Agency (an English real-time report of Bulgarian news), stated that Cholakov’s death was sudden and unprecedented with no signs of immediate health complications.
In the report, it states Cholakov fell ill at 10:00 A.M. and his relatives quickly called paramedics. The emergency team reported that Cholakov had died from a heart attack, but that’s the initial analysis, and the full biopsy will provide more details into other possible cardiac and health-related issues that may have been present. Cholakov’s relatives told local media sources that he’d been recently suffering from heart problems.
Cholakov had built a solid list of career accolades. His weightlifting career bests include a 207.5kg snatch, 245kg clean & Jerk, and 447.5kg total.
In 2003, he won a silver medal at the World Championships. Then, in 2004, he took home a bronze medal at the Athens Olympics, and a gold medal at the European Championships.
Unfortunately, Cholakov was among the 11 Bulgarian weightlifters that failed doping tests before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This led the whole Bulgarian team to withdraw from the Olympics, and serve a four year ban.
In the Reuters report, they state that upon completion of his doping ban, Cholakov claimed Azerbaijani citizenship, and set his sights to compete for this country at the 2012 London Olympics. Yet, before official weigh-ins reports came in that Cholakov failed to show up. At the time, there was no official reasoning given as to why he didn’t show, but it was later announced that it was due to health issues.
Before his passing, Cholakov worked as weightlifting coach for multiple athletes in his hometown of Smolyan, Bulgaria. With heavy hearts, we send our condolences to Cholakov’s family, friends, and athletes.
Feature image screenshot from throwhammer on YouTube.