Former speed skater Igor Zhelezovski, six-time world sprint champion, has died.

According to the Belarusian Skating Union, he turned 59.

Zhelezovski won the world title in 1985, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1993 and is therefore the record holder.

South Korean Lee Kyou-hyuk, American Eric Heiden and Canadian Jeremy Wotherspoon each won four titles in their careers.

Despite his World Cup successes, there was no gold at the Olympics, although Zhelezovski took bronze in the 1,000 meters in 1988 and silver in 1994. Zhelezovski won that first Olympic medal under the flag of the Soviet Union and the second under the flag of Belarus. .

Zhelezovski was nicknamed 'The Bear from Minsk' because of his large stature, although he was not from that city.

"The Belarusian Skating Union expresses its sincere condolences to Igor's family and friends, as well as to the entire skating family," it said in a statement.

Zhelezovsky, who was president of the Belarusian Speed ​​Skating Federation between 1996 and 2005, was named Athlete of the Year in his country five times.

It is not known what caused him to die.