Sport Olympic cyclist Olivia Podmore dies aged 24
Without the crowd's roar, Tokyo Olympians search for spirit
TOKYO (AP) — The beloved American gymnast Sam Mikulak flipped off the parallel bars, stuck the landing and blew a kiss toward the camera. Those watching the men’s Olympics gymnastic competition on television back home knew they’d seen magic. “Beautiful!” the broadcast announcer exclaimed. “Wow, that was fantastic!” But all around Mikulak, the stretches of wooden benches meant to seat thousands sat mostly empty. Cheers erupted from a far back corner of the stands, where Simone Biles and the rest of the women's team screamed as loud as lungs could muster to cut through the eerie quiet of the pandemic Olympic venue.
Tributes have been paid to Olympic cyclist Olivia Podmore who has died at the age of 24.
The New Zealand rider competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the. Podmore was not selected to ride in Tokyo but did compete at the world championships last year and represented New Zealand in the women's sprint event in Rio.
She passed away suddenly just hours after posting a message on her Instagram page detailing the "struggle" of elite sport.
In the since deleted Instagram post, Podmore 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're] 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.”
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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.”
Australian cycling legend Anna Meares was among those to pay tribute to Podmore.
She posted on Twitter : "My heart breaks for the loss of a young life. Sorry you were in pain.
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"Please reach out if you feel alone, are hurting, feel lost or helpless."
Cycling New Zealand released a statement on Monday evening, saying they were "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.
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“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 spokesperson confirmed they had attended a sudden death at a property in Cambridge, New Zealand early on Monday evening.
They added: "Police are making enquiries in relation to the death on behalf of the coroner.”
If you need to speak to someone, Samaritans are available 24/7 by calling 116 123 or by emailing
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