SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Olympic Gold Medal Wrestler and Springfield College grad Jeff Blatnik is dead at the age of 55.
Blatnik died Wednesday in New York of heart failure.
Jeff Blatnik overcame cancer to win a Gold medal in wrestling at the 1984 Summer Olympics.
Blatnik was a graduate of Springfield College where he excelled as a wrestler.
His achievements are highlighted on wall plaques throughout Blake Arena.
At Springfield College, Blatnik’s death is hitting the college community hard says wrestling coach Jason Holder.
“I think a lot of us around here were devastated because he’s known world-wide for his contributions to wrestling, he’s been a very positive influence on a lot of our student athletes here at Springfield College because he’s a prime example of what it means to overcome adversity,” says Holder.
When he wrestled at Springfield College, Jeff Blatnik was national champion back in 1978 and 1979, and he was inducted into the Springfield College Hall of Fame in 1987. His legacy here will not be forgotten says Craig Poisson, Associate Director of Athletics.
“Jeff lived the school philosophy, that was his legacy the way he treated people, the way he treated people of all ages, he volunteered at his high school where he was state champion,” says Craig Poisson.
Jeff Blatnik was no stranger to Springfield College after he graduated. “Jeff would come back and he would do some motivational speaking. He met with our wrestlers. he would come back for alumni and teach some techniques, just a great guy.
One of the times he returned was to be the commencement speaker.
Craig Poisson won’t forget the message he delivered,”You can educate the mind, you can train the body, but without spirit you have nothing, spirit makes the impossible possible, and those words bring to life the Springfield College Humanics philosophy which this institution has had for 125 years,” says Craig Poisson.