Viktor Saneyev captured Olympic gold at Mexico City 1968, Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976 ©Getty Images

Viktor Saneyev - who claimed three Olympic triple jump gold medals for the Soviet Union - has died at the age of 76.

Tributes have been paid to Saneyev, with the Georgian National Olympic Committee heralding him as "the best Georgian athlete of the 20th century".

Born in Sukhumi in modern-day Georgia in October 1945, Saneyev represented the Soviet Union at four Olympic Games - winning a medal at each of them.

Saneyev secured men's triple jump gold at Mexico City 1968, Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976 before claiming silver at Moscow 1980.

At his final Games in Moscow, Saneyev carried the Olympic Flame into the stadium before passing it to Sergei Belov who lit the Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony.

Saneyev broke the triple jump world record three times, with two of those leaps coming during Mexico City 1968.

He also won European gold in 1969 and 1974 and was a six-time European indoor champion before calling time on his athletics career after the 1980 Olympics.

Following his retirement, Saneyev had a spell working at Dynamo Sports Club in Georgian capital Tbilisi before moving to Australia with his family after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

European Athletics said it was "very saddened" to hear of the death of the "triple jump great".