Leading Ukrainian fencer Denys Boreyko has been killed in the war with Russia at the age of 34 ©Twitter

Denys Boreyko, one of Ukraine's leading fencers, has been killed in the war against Russia, it was reported today.

The 34-year-old died on July 3 and was buried on Thursday (July 13), the Ukrainian Fencing Federation said.

News of his death was circulated on social media by Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry.

"Denys was a world champion and European champion among juniors, as well as a master of sports of international class," Gerashchenko wrote.

"From the first days of the Russian full-scale invasion in February [2022], Denys helped the Ukrainian military and territorial defense (sic) of Dnipro, and in March 2022 he voluntarily joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

"Eternal memory to Hero!"

The death of Boreyko will only increase tensions in fencing, a sport where the issue of Russia participation is particularly sensitive.

The International Fencing Federation’s ruling in March that Russian and Belarusian fencers could return to its competition as neutrals has proved to be highly divisive and has resulted in multiple events in Europe being cancelled.

Last week it was confirmed that Ukrainian fencers will boycott individual competitions at the World Championships, due to take place in Milan from July 22 until July 25, that have athletes from Russia and Belarus taking part.

Last month, following a proposal from Ukraine, all fencers from Russia and Belarus were banned from competing in European Fencing Confederation (EFC) events.

Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov, a four-time Olympic champion, was removed from his position as EFC President last year following the invasion of Ukraine.

According to the last update provided by the country’s Sports minister and National Olympic Committee President Vadym Gutzeit in April, 262 Ukrainian athletes had been killed and 363 sports facilities destroyed in the war.