Romanian canoeist and multiple Olympic medal winner Ivan Patzaichin dead at 71

Foto: Inquam Photos / Ilona Andrei

Romanian canoeist Ivan Patzaichin who represented Romania at five Olympic Games where he won four gold and three silver medals in single and double events, has died. He was 71.

He was admitted to Elias Hospital in Bucharest three months ago after reportedly suffering lung cancer, Romanian media reported.

He died on Sunday, the Romanian Olympic Committee said. No cause of death was officially given.

Ivan is gone

‘His family posted a short Facebook message announcing his death. “Ivan is gone and he isn’t coming back anymore.”

Mr. Patzaichin competed in the 1968 Olypic Games in Mexico City and his last Olympics was the 1984 Los Angeles games. He was the most decorated Romanian canoeist in history.

With his trademark pony tail and modest attitude, he was a popular figure in Romania long after his retirement.


The Romanian Romanian Olympic Sports Commission said: “The champion has become a star. Ivan Patzaichin has died (…) His story is a success, a story of common decency and personality”

“This is a story of Danube Delta’s son giving back ten times over. It’s a story that encouraged people…  He was a generous and devoted person, with the exception of the glorious medals, seven Olympic medals (four gold medals), and 21 world medals (9 gold medals). RIP, Ivan! You will stay in our hearts forever!

Foto: INQUAM/Ovidiu Micsik

Born in Romania’s Danibe Delta in the years after the end of World War II, he actively campaigned for the preservation of the region and for ecological tourism.


He was a member of the minority of the Russian-speaking Lipovans there.

After his retirement, Mr Patzaichin worked as canoe racing coach. His protegees reportedly won 150 world class medals.

He was included in the list in a national poll in 2006. 100 Greatest Romanians All the time.

There was no immediate word about funeral arrangements.

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