At the age of 18, Vasily Alekseyev began practicing weightlifting at Trud Voluntary Sports Society, trained by his coach Rudolf Plyukfelder until 1968, when he began to train solo. He was not a naturally large man like other super heavyweights but was encouraged to gain strength by adding weight. In January 1970 Alekseyev set his first world record, and during the World Weightlifting Championship in Columbus, Ohio in 1970 he was the first man to clean and jerk 500 pounds (227 kg) in competition. During one of his early world records, Oscar State OBE remarked that the weight of over 460 pounds (209 kg) in the Olympic press looked so easy it could have been a broomstick. This was the beginning of a series of 80 world records Vasily Alekseyev set between 1970 and 1977. He received bonus funds every time he set a world record by the Soviet Union; so he made it a point to gradually increase his world records by 1.1 pounds or 0.5 kg. He was unbeaten and held the World Championship and European Championship titles for those eight years. He was the first man to total over 600 kg in the triple event. Many thought he would be the first to clean and jerk the mythical 600 pounds but it was never to be as his habit of increasing world records by only 1/2 kilo took so long that age caught up to him.
Vasily Alekseyev’s performance in the Moscow Olympics of 1980 was a disappointment. He had by then become more of a recluse, training by himself without a coach. In the snatch he set his opening weight too high and was unable to lift it, scoring zero kilograms as the result. He retired from weightlifting after the Moscow Olympics. In 1987, Alekseyev was elected to represent the Ryazan District for the Soviet Union’s Congress of People’s Deputies. Vasily Alekseyev worked as a coach between 1990 and 1992. Under his leadership, the Unified Team earned ten medals in weightlifting at the 1992 Summer Olympics, including five golds. From 1966 Alekseyev lived in Shakhty, where in 1971 he graduated from the branch of the Novocherkassk Polytechnical Institute. He died on 25 November 2011 in Germany in a clinic where he had been sent for serious heart problems. He was 69. The Russian Weightlifting Federation reported his death and called him a “Soviet sports legend” and “one of the strongest people in the world”. He was survived by wife Olimpiada and sons Sergey and Dmitry. Dmitry competed nationally in weightlifting, placing fourth at the 1988 Soviet weightlifting championships.
- January, 07, 1942
- Pokrovo-Shishkino, Ryazan Oblast
- November, 11, 2011
- Munich, Germany
- City Cemetery
- Rostov Oblast, Russia