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Funeral to be held this morning for Olympic hero Jeff Blatnick

Monday, October 29, 2012
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Local wrestling coach Frank Popolizio, center with back to camera, hugs friends in line for the calling hours for Olympic gold medalist and Niskayuna native Jeff Blatnick at Glenville Funeral Home on Sunday.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson
Local wrestling coach Frank Popolizio, center with back to camera, hugs friends in line for the calling hours for Olympic gold medalist and Niskayuna native Jeff Blatnick at Glenville Funeral Home on Sunday.

— Funeral services will be held today for Olympic hero and Niskayuna native Jeff Blatnick, who died Wednesday from cardiopulmonary arrest.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Grace Church, at 73 Midline Road in his hometown of Ballston Lake. Burial will be in Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Niskayuna.

Calling hours were held Sunday afternoon at Glenville Funeral Home.

Blatnick was 55 when he died, sending shockwaves through a local community that revered him for his lifetime of accomplishments, character and giving back to his community.

He had beaten Hodgkin’s lymphoma prior to winning the Olympic gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, and again afterward.

Blatnick toured the country as a motivational speaker and also held several stints as a sports commentator over the years.

For the past six years, he volunteered as a varsity wrestling coach at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, where his wife, Lori, worked as a bus driver and his two children, Ian and Niki, went to school.

His family asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made in his memory to the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Wrestling Scholarship Fund. Contributions can be mailed to the BH-BL Booster Club at 5 Beverly Court, Glenville, NY 12302.

The Journeymen Wrestling Club, which has a local wrestling program, is raising money to send to Blatnick’s family.

Donations will be collected until Nov. 24, when the 10th annual Journeymen/ASICS Northeast Collegiate Duals will take place in Troy and a special tribute will be held in Blatnick’s honor.

All donations will go to the family.

The club asks that donations be made out to Journeymen Wrestling Club, LTD, with the memo line “Jeff Blatnick,” and mailed to 2220 Balltown Road, Niskayuna, NY 12309.

 
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