Neculai Vieru has died after a battle with prostate cancer ©FIG

International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) President Bruno Grandi has expressed "deep sadness" after the death of Neculai Vieru, a former vice president of the world governing body.

Eighty-four-year-old Vieru, the former head of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation, died last week after a long battle with prostate cancer.

He was the coach of the Romanian men's team from 1962 to 1967, before passing over to sports governance.

He served as secretary general of his country's Federation between 1967 and 1983 and was President from 1987 to 2005.

In 1976 he was elected to the FIG Executive Committee and he served three terms as vice president before retiring in 2008.

"The death of our friend Neculai Vieru who was one of the leading players in international gymnastics, extends the list of passings that deeply affected the International Gymnastics Federation this year," said Grandi, who will step down as President in November.

"Neculai was a grand sports leader in Romania, a country that is synonym for big success in gymnastics on the Olympic, World and European stage and well known by all fans of the sport.

"For a long time our competitions, in particular the women’s competitions, were dominated by the Romanian school. 

"From this time we will first and foremost retain the phenomenon Nadia Comaneci, but many other ambassadors personified what remains a true artistic and sporting school of thoughts.

Former Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci was among those to pay tribute ©Getty Images
Former Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci was among those to pay tribute ©Getty Images

"With his essential role in the Romanian federation Neculai Vieru was the undisputed architect of this success. 

"The confrontation between this small country and the Soviet Union marked our era and remains etched in history. 

"The Romanian school deeply inspired a big part of the technical codes at the end of the last century and many of its coaches have been recruited abroad where they were instrumental in the rise of those federations that dominate the sport today.

"I have known Neculai as a technical manager, then as director and finally as elected member of the FIG. 

"In recent years, he was awarded the title of FIG Honorary Vice President and named member of the Apparatus Commission due to his indisputable competences.

"It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to a friend. 

"He left us an immense heritage of knowledge, experience and historic gymnastics accomplishments embodied in the word Romania." 

Comaneci, the five-time Olympic champion famous for recording seven perfect 10s at the 1976 Montreal Games, also paid tribute to her compatriot.

"A great man, we will miss you dearly, Neculai Vieru," she said on her Facebook page.