Sergei Ovchinnikov, coach of the Russian women’s volleyball team at the 2012 London Olympics, has been found dead at his team’s preseason training camp in Croatia, prompting speculation that he committed suicide.
Croatian media reported that Sergei Ovchinnikov was found hanging in his room, the victim of what appeared to be a suicide.
The club confirmed the death in a terse statement, but did not give any further details.
“Sergei Ovchinnikov suddenly passed away at the team’s training camp in Croatia,” the team said in a statement released on its website.
The Russian Volleyball Federation declined to comment until more facts were released.
Details from police were scant as well. The Croation state news agency Hina quoted a police spokesman who confirmed only that a foreign citizen was found dead.
“The circumstances are still being investigated,” Valter Opasic told Hina.
Ovchinnikov was named coach of the national team in December 2011 and led the team to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. The team, which won world titles in 2006 and 2010, was a favorite leading into the games, the New York Daily News reported but was upset by eventual winners Brazil despite having six match points.
“He took it very personally,” said Vladimir Alekno, who led the Russian men’s volleyball team to the Olympic gold medal in London. “He was very hard on himself, probably blamed himself for not winning that match.”
Sergei Ovchinnikov’s death came after he received heavy criticism from Russian media, which called out his lack of high-level international experience and faulted him for the team losing.