‘We cannot understand’: Sudden death of taekwondo champion, 19, branded a mystery
The shocked coach of a tragic taekwondo starlet who won European gold less than a month ago says there is no obvious cause of her death at the age of 19, with messages of support arriving from across Russia.
Perm University prodigy Arina Biktimirova is said to have suddenly died at home in the city where she studied on Monday, leaving her parents mourning their only child.
The news comes just weeks after Biktimirova became champion at the European Taekwon-Do ITF Championships in Crete.
“We cannot understand what could have happened to her health," Biktimirova's coach, Daniel Gorbunov, told KP.RU.
"Arina did not have any chronic diseases. Before each competition, athletes are not just checked, but literally 'shine through'.
"Arina, when she was checked before going to the European Championship, was completely healthy. What has happened [has made] us too shocked."
According to the outlet, Biktimirova's relatives said she had been fine and did not report feeling unwell when she recently spent a day off at home.
Her parents are said to have been woken by her wheezing and losing consciousness the following morning.
An ambulance rushed to try to save Biktimirova, but doctors could not revive the athlete who began her sporting exploits at the age of six.
Biktimirova was studying to become a radiophysicist at the university alongside her high sporting ambitions.
Her university trainers described her death as "a huge loss" and said they had received calls "from all over Russia" expressing condolences.
"At 11, she had already begun to represent the Russian national team," they pointed out.
"She was a real girl-star – not only in sports, but also in music and studies. She chose a non-standard profession for herself... and dreamed of becoming a radiophysicist.
"In sports, she was a talented athlete who had a great future ahead of her. If Arina performed at competitions, it meant that she automatically reserved a medal for herself."