State news agency SANA says 27-year-old Mohammed Ali Neimeh died when a mortar shell hit a sports hall in the Syrian capital on Wednesday. Neimeh had been training for an upcoming Islamic Solidarity Tournament in Indonesia this week, SANA said.
Neimeh has been a member of the national team since 2006. While he has never qualified for the Olympics, SANA said he was a Syrian sporting hero for winning medals at international tournaments, including a bronze in the 2010 West Asian Championships.
Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad have frequently fired mortars on residential districts of the capital to disrupt life in the capital that the regime tries hard to portray as detached from the bloody civil war that has raged for more than two years.