A Ukrainian pensioner has died of suffocation shortly after his triumphant victory in a dumpling eating contest in the southeast of the country.

The man, 77, who was not named, was taking part in the weekend speed eating competition of varenniki, a traditional Ukrainian dumpling, in the town of Tomak.

“He swallowed 10 varenniki and was several seconds ahead of his rival,” said Viktor Khalamovsy, one of the organisers of the competition, which marked the city’s 227th anniversary.

“He did not feel bad at all and even raised his hands aloft in victory,” said Khalamovsky on Thursday. “He received half a litre of sour cream as a prize and then went away quietly.

“An hour and a half later, I heard that he was dead.”

Investigators in the town said that the man had died of suffocation.

“He ate too much and vomited but a bit of the dumpling got stuck in his throat,” said chief investigator Sergiy Kostiyuk.

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