Soviet weightlifter Vasily Alekseyev is usually considered the greatest super-heavyweight lifter in history. Alekseyev, who took up weightlifting at the age of 18, when starting to study at the Arkhangelsk State Technical University, was unbeatable from 1970 to 1978. In 1966, Alekseyev moved to Shakhty, Rostov and started to train under Rudolf Plyukfelder, but did not rose to prominence until after 1968, when he developed his own unique training methods and started to train without a coach. During his career, Alekseyev won gold medals at the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games and won eight successive gold medals at the World Championships (1970-1977), which equaled the record of Americans John Davis and Tommy Kono. He also won eight European titles (1970-1975, 1977, 1978). Domestically, Alekseyev won seven Soviet titles (1970-1976) and a bronze in 1968. He also won the Soviet Cup in 1970, 1972 and 1974. Between 1970 and 1977, Alekseyev set 80 super-heavyweight world records – 17 in the press, four in the snatch, 32 in the clean & jerk, and 27 in the total lift. He once stated that his goal was to set 100 world records and as Alekseyev received bonuses for each world record, he craftily broke each record by the smallest of margins, making it easier for him to break the record again in the future.
Alekseyev was finally defeated at the 1978 World Championships when he competed while injured and did not medal. After recovering from the injury, Alekseyev tried a comeback at the 1980 Olympic Games, but failed to make a successful lift in the snatch and then retired from competition for good. After retirement from competition, Alekseyev worked as a weightlifting coach in Shakhty. He was head coach of the Soviet national weightlifting team from 1990-92, and in 1992 he was also the head coach of the Unified Team’s Olympic weightlifting team. In 1993, Alekseyev was elected to the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame. He was married to a woman aptly named Olimpiada and had two sons, Sergey, who is a procurer and Dmitry, a businessman who also did weightlifting in his youth, having placed fourth at the 1988 Soviet championships.