It is with great sadness that we have learned that, the Bulgarian born weightlifter Antonio Krastev passed away at the age of 58 due to a tragic accident in the United States.
With his passing the weightlifting world has lost one of its greatest lifter of all time.
Throughout his career he won two World Championships, two European Championships and one Junior World Championships title and hold several world records.
He was also named „strongest man on the planet” by an American magazine after his famous snatch of 216 kg in 1987. This record was only beaten at an international competition 30 years later by none other than Lasha Talakhadze (GEO).
Although he was considered one of the greatest weightlifter of all time, he never had a chance to compete at the Olympic Games. In 1984, he missed the Games due to political circumstances, in 1988 Bulgaria withdrew from the Games after two of their athletes committed doping offences. Later on, he left Bulgaria for the US where he did not receive an American citizenship in time therefore he missed his third and last chance to compete at the Olympics in 1996.
Artie Dreschler, former USA Weightlifting Chair of the Board who was a close friend of Krastev said:
“Across the years Antonio trained with us, I had the pleasure of seeing him snatch 200kg on several occasions, and clean and jerk 250kg once, as he prepared for the 1996 Olympics in hopes of earning US citizenship by then, and representing the US in the Atlanta Games. But when he could see that his citizenship could not be gained by then, causing him to miss his third chance at an Olympic Games, he lost his drive to train and retired.”
“I’m very sad to see that Antonio came to such an early and tragic end, but I’m truly grateful to have known him. He was a lifter’s lifter and an independent man. I’ll miss him.”
Although he is not with us anymore, his memory and famous lifts will stay with us forever. The International Weightlifting Federation offers its heartfelt condolences to the Bulgarian and USA Weightlifting Federation and his loved ones.