Two-time European weightlifting champion Olexander Pyolechenko. UOC

The Ukrainian Olympic Committee announced via Telegram on Monday that two-time European weightlifting champion Olexander Pyolechenko had died "in combat with the enemy" on the front line of the war against Russia.

He was 30 years old and was born in the town of Petrovske (now Petrovo-Krasnosillya) in the Luhansk region. He joined the Ukrainian Army in February 2022. "In the very first days of the Russian aggression, Oleksander volunteered for military service. Yesterday we received the sad news of his death," wrote the Ukrainian Olympic Committee.

"It is with great sadness that we have to announce today that the heart of one of the masters of Ukrainian sport, the two-time European champion Olexander Pyeljeschenko, has stopped beating," the Ukrainian Weightlifting Federation also said in a statement.

Ukraine's national weightlifting coach said Pielieshenko "died a hero defending Ukraine" in a post on Facebook. "War takes the best from us. This is a very heavy loss for the entire weightlifting community of Ukraine," Viktor Slobodjanjuk wrote.

According to the Associated Press, more than 400 Ukrainian athletes and officials have been killed in the war.  However, Pyryshenko became the first Olympian to be killed while serving in the Ukrainian-Russian war.

Pielieshenko returned from a doping suspension in 2013-15 to win the European under-85 kilogram division He successfully retained the title in Split in 2017. The Ukrainian weightlifter missed out on an Olympic medal by five kilograms at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he placed fourth. He committed a second doping violation in 2018.

According to Ukrainian skeleton athlete Vladyslav Heraskevych, around 450 elite Ukrainian athletes have already died in the conflict. Heraskevych, a two-time Olympian, set up a foundation to help the Ukrainian people shortly after the war began. "These people should be promoting sport in our country and living their lives, but instead they are dead," he told The Guardian.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday thanked his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for backing his idea of a truce in all conflicts, including the war between Russia and Ukraine, during the Paris Olympics this summer, Agence France-Presse reported.

Last week, the UOC had asked their Olympic representatives and other members of the Ukrainian delegation in Paris 2024 to avoid, as far as possible, any direct contact with athletes from Russia and Belarus, which are supporting Russian forces in their invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainians are also encouraged to report violations of the principle of neutrality by Russians and Belarusians.