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Wed Oct 24, 2012, 07:22 PM

Jeff Blatnick dies at age 55

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- Jeff Blatnick, who overcame cancer to win a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1984 Summer Olympics and went on to a career as a sports commentator and motivational speaker, died Wednesday in New York state at age 55.

Officials at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, N.Y., said he died of heart failure.

Blatnick was a high school state champion in suburban Albany in the mid-1970s and was a two-time Division II national champion and three-time Division II All-American at Springfield College in Massachusetts.

He qualified for the U.S. Olympic team and was a member of the 1980 squad, which did not compete because the U.S. boycotted that year's Games in Moscow.

In 1982, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was treated and the disease went into remission, and he was able to resume training and win the super heavyweight gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Blatnick, who had served as an analyst for ESPN, also was a three-time Greco-Roman national champion and won eight Greco-Roman All-American awards, two World Cup medals and two freestyle All-American honors.

USA Wrestling national Greco-Roman coach Steve Fraser, who also won a gold medal at the 1984 Games, was a teammate of Blatnick's. Fraser and Blatnick were the first two U.S. Greco-Roman wrestlers to ever win gold medals.


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