Former Olympic cyclist Olivia Podmore cheers on New Zealand athletes while watching Tokyo Olympics in a file photo. (Thomson Reuters)
New Zealand cycling was plunged into mourning on Tuesday after Olympian Olivia Podmore’s sudden death at the age of 24.
Podmore represented her country at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2018 Commonwealth Games but was not part of New Zealand’s team at the recent Tokyo Games.
A New Zealand police spokesman said police attended a sudden death at a property in Waikato on New Zealand’s upper North Island at about 4 p.m. local time on Monday.
Podmore’s cause of death was not confirmed but friends and sports officials said her passing had raised concerns about her mental health.
Former Olympic rowing champion Eric Murray, a friend of Podmore, told New Zealand media he was with her on Monday and said her death was a “shock and a tragedy.”
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.
American Simone Biles pulled out of most of her Olympic gymnastics events in Tokyo, citing a need to take care of her mental health.
New Zealand media reported Podmore had recently described the pressures of elite sport in a post on her social media.