Soviet diver Sergei Chalibashvili died today, a week after hitting his head on a hardwood 10-meter platform at the World University Games.
The 21-year-old from the Soviet republic of Georgia was pronounced dead at 7:25 a.m. EDT at Edmonton's University Hospital after resuscitation attempts failed. The hospital said Chalibashvili died of "cardio-pulmonary failure as a result of a head injury."
He was in a coma, on life-support apparatus and in intensive care since the accident occurred. He never regained consciousness.
Chalibashvili's body was "embalmed, sealed and placed in a casket," said Ernie Miller, manager of media services for the University Games. "It will be flown to Moscow Monday or Tuesday."
No autopsy was performed.
"In this case, the cause of death was quite evident," said Ken Stewart, an investigator in the Alberta Medical Examiner's office in Edmonton.
He said the death certificate listed the cause as "acute cranial cerebral injury due to blunt force trauma."
At the time of the accident, the young athlete had been in sixth place in the tower competition and was attempting to make up ground with a reverse 3 1/2-somersault, one of the newest and most difficult dives performed in international competition. The dive was approved for international use in competition in January.
Chalibashvili split open the back of his head on a platform on the second loop of the dive. He was carried from the pool and taken to University Hospital.
Canadian Diving Coach Don Webb said later it was his understanding the Soviet coaches "tried to dissuade the kid from making the dive but (he) wanted to do it."
Throughout the week he was attended by a Soviet doctor, plus hospital specialists. An interpreter also was in the private intensive care unit.
Miller said there were no plans to honor Chalibashvili in Edmonton, where the Games ended Monday. "Any monument or plaque raised at the pool would be a constant reminder of the tragedy," he said.
In Los Angeles, Soviet athletes attending an international swim meet said they would hold a memorial service.
In Ottawa, External Affairs spokesman Andre Farrand said his department had not been in touch with the Soviet Embassy since the diver's death.
"We are terribly sorry this tragedy occurred," Farrand said. "We extended an offer of assistance to the Soviet Embassy during the course of last week and the offer still stands."
Chalibashvili was born June 22, 1962. He lived in Tbilisi, the capital of Soviet Georgia, and was a physical education student at the Physical Culture Institute of Georgia.
He was considered one of the top five divers in the Soviet Union. He was coached by Vladimir Vassin, the 1972 Olympic diving champion, and his widowed mother.
On Wednesday, his mother said she would not travel to Edmonton because "she wanted to remember her son as he was when she kissed him goodbye at the airport," according to Miller.
Chalibashvili was Soviet diving cup champion in the 10-meter competition in 1980, 1981 and 1982. He was fourth at the Spring Swallows diving competition held recently in Minsk, where he successsfully executed the reverse 3 1/2 somersault.