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New Zealand mourns death of 24-year-old Olympic track cyclist Olivia Podmore

The young cyclist was a 'much loved and respected rider' in the community

Photo by: Nicola, Wikimedia Commons, CC-by-sa 4.0

On Monday, the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) confirmed in a statement that Olympian Olivia Podmore had died.

“We offer our deepest condolences to family, friends and others in the NZ community who are grieving this loss,” said the NZOC.

A talented cyclist

The 24-year-old cyclist, born in Christchurch, New Zealand, won silver in the team sprint and bronze in the time trial at the 2015 Junior World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan. She qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games where she represented New Zealand in the team sprint, the keirin and the individual sprint.

Though she had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, Podmore was not selected and did not compete in this year’s Games.

The pressure of life as an elite athlete

Podmore’s cause of death has not yet been confirmed by police.

Podmore at the 2020 UCI Track Cycling World Championships. photo: Tim Rademacher

According to the New Zealand Herald, Podmore posted on Instagram about the challenges of life as an elite athlete early on Monday, though the post was later deleted.

“Sport is an amazing outlet for so many people, it’s a struggle, it’s a fight but it’s so joyous,” she had written in the post, according to the New Zealand Herald.

“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’re] 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.”

The NZOC says it is providing “wellbeing support for members of her team and the wider team” as the country’s athletes return home from Tokyo. Athletes and team members are being offered support via the New Zealand Olympic Team psychology team, the Health team, or via sport/NSO psychology and health providers.

“She was a valued team member and her loss will be felt across the New Zealand Sporting Community,” said the NZOC.

In Canada, national team athletes struggling with the pressures of life as an elite athlete can reach out to Game Plan for a number of resources.