A 25-year-old Russian champion hurdler was found dead after suffering a cardiac arrest during a training run.
Margarita Plavunova was a multiple regional, Central Federal District and All-Russia champion who was hoping to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
According to the Russian news agency TASS, she was found dead by the side of a road in the Morshansky district of Tambov on Monday (August 19).
Eyewitnesses reported she fell on the grass and lost consciousness. Local residents called an ambulance but first responders were unable to save her life.
Margarita’s death has been confirmed by the Russian Athletics Federation, who expressed condolences to the young woman’s family. The cause of death was given as a cardiac arrest, which local media have suggested could have been the result of her heavy training workload.
Her coach, Elena Menilkova, had reportedly said the 25-year-old had been feeling unwell for a few days. According to the Mirror, the Investigative Committee of the Tambov region have launched an investigation into her death, though no foul play is suspected.
The athlete’s friend, Sergei Safronov, said Margarita had been staying at her grandmother’s home in Morshansk at the time, where she was training for her next competition.
Margarita competed in the 60m and 100m hurdles and last raced at a regional tournament in Zhukovskiy on 22 June. She had a personal best of 14.06 in the 100m hurdles.
To qualify for the 2016 Olympics, athletes needed to be able to complete the 100m hurdles in 13 seconds. However, according to Watch Athletics entry requirement were tougher for the upcoming competition, with women competing in the 100m hurdles needing to achieve a time of 12.84.
Olympic hopefuls could also qualify by virtue of their IAAF World Ranking position in the selected event at the end of the respective qualification period.
The 25-year-old spoke of her love of the sport in an interview with Kirov Portals earlier this year, describing hurdles as (translated) ‘interesting and not monotonous.’
According to Irytas, Margarita had won 18 gold medals throughout her career.
The 25-year-old was born in the city of Kostovsk and was a graduate of the sports department at Tomsk State University. Alongside her athletic career, Margarita worked as a model and regularly entertained her 5,000 Instagram followers with photos of her training.
Our thoughts are with Margarita’s friends and family at this tragic time.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.