Olympic cyclist Olivia Podmore died suddenly aged 24, hours after posting a chilling Instagram post about the pressures of competing at elite level, her family confirmed via social media. The New Zealand cycling community has been shocked by the sudden death of the velodrome ace on Monday.
Podmore represented her country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2018 Commonwealth Games but was not part of the team that participated in the just-completed Tokyo Olympics. It is not known if the depression of not being able to participate in the Tokyo Olympics is related to Podmore's death.
A New Zealand police spokesman said that officers received a call for a sudden death at a property in Waikato on New Zealand's North Island on Monday. After reaching there they learnt that it was Podmore.
"Rest in peace to my gorgeous sister and loved daughter of Phil Podmore. You will be in our hearts forever," her brother Mitchell shared.
Police are still investigating under what circumstances Podmore died and if there is foul play involved. Podmore won silver in the team sprint and bronze in the time trial at the Junior World Champs in Astana in 2015. Since then there has been no looking back for the cyclist but it is being believed that she was depressed after missing out on being part of New Zealand's Tokyo Olympics cycling squad.
"Police are making enquiries in relation to the death on behalf of the coroner," the spokesman said.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) said news of Podmore's death had reached the New Zealand cycling team in Tokyo, which is preparing to return home.
Podmore's death comes just a day after the completion of the Tokyo Olympics. However, what has kept everyone puzzled is a chilling Instagram post which made hours before her death.
"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," she wrote.
The post has since been deleted.
Social media was flooded with heartbreaking tributes as shocked friends and family shared their favorite memories of Podmore.
"You will be missed so freaking much," one woman posted. "You would always light up the room with your smile. You accomplished so much and we are all so proud of you. I will always cherish the memories I had with you. RIP and fly high."
"We offer our deepest condolences to family, friends and others in the NZ community who are grieving this loss," the NZOC said in a statement.
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."