New Zealand cyclist, former Olympian Olivia Podmore, dies at 24

Cyclist Olivia Podmore of New Zealand is seen during the women's sprint event at the Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup at the Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane, Australia, on December 14, 2019. File Photo by Dan Peled

Aug. 11 (UPI) — Olympic cyclist Olivia Podmore of New Zealand, who participated at the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil but was not chosen to go to Tokyo this year, has been found dead, authorities said. She was 24.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee announced Podmore’s death. NBC News reported that authorities said she was found at a home in Waikato on Monday.

Podmore competed in multiple events at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, including the team sprint and the women’s keirin. She and teammate Natasha Hansen finished ninth in the team sprint and did not advance past the qualification round. Podmore crashed in the keirin and finished 25th.

Podmore also represented New Zealand at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and was New Zealand’s keirin champion in 2017.

Authorities did not disclose the cause of her death, but New Zealand organizers said they were “deeply saddened” by the news.

“Olivia represented New Zealand with honor and pride at both the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games,” the committee said in a statement.

“She was a valued team member and her loss will be felt across the New Zealand sporting community.”

New Zealand rower Eric Murray, who won gold in Rio and London in 2012, said that he’d been with Podmore on Monday and that she’d made posts on social media talking about the pressures of being an elite athlete.

“I wish she had said something,” he said, according to Yahoo Sports. “We have lost a sister, a friend and a fighter who lost that will of fight inside of her.

“I was the last person to see her alive. If you had seen her in the last 72 hours, you wouldn’t have thought this could happen.”

Awareness for the mental health of athletes became a major topic at the Tokyo Olympics after U.S. gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from multiple events citing her mental well-being. Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon this year for similar reasons.

Podmore qualified to participate in Tokyo, but she was not selected by the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

“We are providing well-being support for members of her team and the wider team as we return home from Tokyo,” the committee added.


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