Torch Bearer Carries Olympic Flame, Then Dies
Vadim Gorbenko has heart attack
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2013 11:47 AM CST
Torch bearer Konstantin Tychkov, swimmer at the 2008 Summer Paralympics, holds an Olympic torch during the Olympic torch relay in Novosibirsk, about 1,750 miles east of Moscow, Russia, Dec. 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/Ilnar Salakhiev)

(Newser) – A Russian wrestling coach carried the Olympic flame 500 feet, had his photo taken, said he didn't feel well ... and ended up dead of a heart attack, an official said today. Vadim Gorbenko, 73, who had trained top wrestlers and also acted as a sports school director, was taking part in the Sochi 2014 Winter Games torch relay in his home city in Siberia, Reuters reports. A spokesperson for the torch relay says torchbearers are warned that their duty involves physical exertion, and he had previously suffered two other heart attacks.

It's not the only spot of bad news for the Sochi games: The torch has had a bit of an ill-fated ride (see this and this), and now French President Francois Hollande says he won't attend, CNN reports. No explanation has been given as to why not, but Russia has been criticized for its anti-gay laws, alleged human rights problems, and other issues. German President Joachim Gauck has also said he will boycott the games.