Thousands of mourners packed into a sports hall to remember Kazakh figure skater Denis Ten on Saturday, two days after he was stabbed to death in the street in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The Olympic bronze medallist, who turned 25 in June, was knifed in broad daylight during a struggle with two men he had caught trying to steal the mirrors on his car, police said.
Fans, some of them crying, carried flowers and held up banners with the message “Forgive us, we couldn’t save you” at the memorial service at the capital’s Palace of Sport.
They listened to a recording of a song Mr. Ten wrote not long before his death, called She Won’t Be Mine.
“He was an outstanding personality, the real patriot of Kazakhstan,” President Nursultan Nazarbayev said in a message read out at the event.
Several sports personalities from Kazakhstan flew in from abroad for the funeral, including world middleweight boxing champion Gennady Golovkin, who trains in the United States.
Mr. Ten became the first skater from Kazakhstan to win an Olympic medal when he received his bronze at the 2014 Sochi games.
Canadian skater Patrick Chan, who won silver in the same competition, said on Twitter he was “honoured and grateful to have shared the ice” with Mr. Ten.
The Kazakh skater was collaborating with Canadian figure skating choreographer Lori Nichol, who told CBC that Mr. Ten was just about to travel to Toronto to work with her on his short program. "I was so looking forward to Denis’s genius on the ice and his infectious laughter, and our deep conversations,” Ms. Nichol told CBC.
Though Mr. Ten had been dogged by injury recently, he competed this year at the Pyeongchang Olympics, where he was cheered by local fans because of his Korean roots and finished 27th.
Denis Yuryevich Ten was born on June 13, 1993, in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan.
Two suspects have been detained over Mr. Ten’s killing, police said.