Former Olympic cyclist Olivia Podmore has died suddenly at the age of 24 after an Instagram post about the pressures of competing

by Aug 11, 2021Sports0 comments

Former Olympic cyclist Olivia Podmore has died suddenly at the age of 24 after an Instagram post about the pressures of competing

The New Zealand star, who was not selected for the Tokyo Olympics, had recently posted a message on social media about the pressures of elite competition. 

Her cause of death was not confirmed but friends and sports officials said her passing had raised concerns about her mental health.

Olivia Podmore smiles as she cycles

In a since-deleted Instagram post, she wrote: ‘Sport is an amazing outlet for so many people, it’s a struggle, it’s a fight but it’s so joyous.

The feeling when you win is unlike any other, but the feeling when you lose, when you don’t get selected even when you qualify when you are injured when you don’t meet society’s expectations such as owning a house, marriage, kids all because [you’re] trying to give everything to your sport is also unlike any other.’

Olivia Podmore smiling

Podmore represented her country at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

A New Zealand police spokesperson said they attended a sudden death at a property in Waikato on New Zealand’s upper North Island at about 4 pm on Monday.

Podmore’s friend and former Olympic rowing champion, Eric Murray, 39, said he was with her on Monday, and said her death was a ‘shock and a tragedy.’

‘I wish she had said something,’ he said.

Olivia Podmore cycling

‘We have lost a sister, a friend and a fighter who lost that will of a fight inside of her.

‘If you had seen her in the last 72 hours, you wouldn’t have thought this could happen.

‘That’s why there’s so much talk about mental health at the moment.’

The issue of athletes struggling with their mental health has been in the spotlight since Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open.

Olivia Podmore

American gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of several events in Tokyo, saying she needed to take care of her mental health.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) said news of Podmore’s death had reached the cycling team in Tokyo, which was expected to return home today.

‘We are providing wellbeing support for members of her team and the wider team as we return home from Tokyo,’ they said in a statement.

Olivia Podmore holds an olympic medal

Paying tribute, Podmore’s brother Mitchell wrote on Facebook: ‘Rest in peace to my gorgeous sister and loved daughter of Phil Podmore. You will be in our hearts forever.’

Sport New Zealand boss Raelene Castle said Podmore had been ‘reaching out for support.

‘Support for athletes in programmes is not perfect. Her legacy has to be that we make improvements,’ Castle told a media conference. Here

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