OLYMPIC cyclist Olivia Podmore has died suddenly aged 24, her heartbroken family have said.
The New Zealand velodrome ace was found on Monday hours after posting a message on social media about the pressures of elite competition.
Olivia, from Canterbury, represented New Zealand at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the women’s sprint event and rode in the world championships last year.
She was not in the squad for the Tokyo games that ended on Sunday.
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 your injured, when you don’t meet society’s expectations such a owning a house, marriage, kids all because [you’re] trying to give everything to your sport is also unlike any other.”
Her family have paid tribute to the tragic Olympian, calling her “gorgeous” and “loved”.
Her brother Mitchell Podmore, posted on social media: “Rest in peace to my gorgeous sister and loved daughter of Phil Podmore.
“You will be in our hearts forever.”
‘MUCH LOVED RIDER’
Aussie cycling legend Anna Meares was among many members of the international cycling community to pay their respects.
She posted on Twitter: “My heart breaks for the loss of a young life. Sorry you were in pain. #RIP@livpodmore#NZcycling#Olympian
“Please reach out if you feel alone, are hurting, feel lost or helpless.”
In a statement on Monday evening, Cycling New Zealand said its riders and staff “are deeply saddened with the loss of one of our young cyclists”.
They added: “Olivia was a much loved and respected rider in our Cycling New Zealand squad.
“At this time we are providing support to our staff and riders, the cycling community and those that were close to Olivia.
“Cycling New Zealand extend our deepest sympathies to Olivia’s family at this time and we ask that the media respect the privacy of Olivia’s family, friends and our riders.
“We offer our deepest condolences to family, friends and others in the NZ community who are grieving this loss.
“We are providing wellbeing support for members of her team and the wider team as we return home from Tokyo.
“Olivia represented New Zealand with honour and pride at both the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“She was a valued team member and her loss will be felt across the New Zealand Sporting Community.”
A police spokeswoman said police attended a sudden death at a Cambridge property early on Monday evening.
She added: “Police are making enquiries in relation to the death on behalf of the coroner.”
Olivia won a silver medal in the team sprint and bronze in the time trial at the Junior World Champs in Astana in 2015.
She was also the 2017 national keirin champion in New Zealand.