TYUMEN, Russia, June 17 (R-Sport) - Failure at the London 2012 Olympics was a contributing factor in the apparent suicide of Russian judoka Elena Ivashchenko, a judo official who knew her said Monday.
Ivashchenko, a four-time European champion who lost in the quarterfinals of the +78kg category at the 2012 Games, died Saturday morning after jumping from a 15th-floor apartment in the Siberian city of Tyumen. She was 28.
Russian media reports have said Ivashchenko had been in a state of severe depression, and the director of the "Tyumen Judo" Olympic preparation center Vyacheslav Yurlov claimed it was set off by the Olympic flop.
"Elena Ivashchenko was a beautiful, kind and sociable person; a strong athlete on the mat but a fragile girl off it," Yurlov said.
"Her depression started after her defeat at the Olympic Games. She really punished herself for it. Those athletes she lost to, she had beaten them before several times."
Yurlov was referring to Idalys Ortiz, the Cuban judoka who dumped Ivashchenko out of the competition and went on to win the gold medal.
Ivashchenko also needed several operations on a leg injury, Yurlov said, with the next surgery scheduled for July.
"She never complained, she put up with it all, kept it bottled up inside," he said. "It seems that she couldn't cope with the emotional weight of it all, and opted for suicide."
Ivashchenko's sudden death has reverberated around the international judo community, with the European Judo Union calling her “one of the strong pillars of the Russian women’s team and in her category.”
“Her performances and her personality will be forever in our minds," the union said in a statement issued Sunday.
Ivashchenko finished seventh in London. She won gold at the European Judo Championships in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012. She took silver at the 2008 worlds and bronze in 2007 and 2011.