Former Olympic gold medallist Steve Wooldridge dies in suspected suicide aged 39
Former Olympic champion cyclist Steve Wooldridge has died at the age of 39 in a suspected suicide.
Cycling New South Wales confirmed that the Sydney-born Australian was found dead on Tuesday, just a week short of his 40 birthday.
"Stephen was an inspirational figure in track cycling, particularly in his home state of NSW," the governing body said in a statement.
"Cycling NSW's thoughts are with Stephen's family and his friends during this difficult time."
Wooldridge was part of the Australian team pursuit squad that won gold at Athens 2004, although he did not take part in the final after riding in the preliminary rounds.
He also claimed four gold medals at the World Championships gold between 2002 and 2006, all of which came in the team pursuit, and took bronze in 2005 in the same event.
Announcing his death, cycling promoter Phil Bates said: "Tragically today he gave his life away leaving behind a son and daughter, family and friends just short of his 40th birthday.
“His infectious smile, gentleman attitude on and off the bike made him a very special person. We are better for knowing him and worse off for losing him.”
Wooldrige’s close friend and fellow cyclist Bruce-John McIntosh penned an emotional letter that paid tribute to him and asked why he took his own life.
“You have left thousands of broken hearts with family and friends that will never recover, but this is about you. How did it come to this?” McIntosh wrote
“You had a loving family, amazing friends, achieved more than most people could ever achieve in 10 lifetimes.
“How many of you have the guy next door that has won gold medals at the Olympic Games, multiple world championships , multiple Commonwealth Games gold Medals and still is fighting his demons inside?”
Wooldridge, who was inducted into the NSW Sports Hall of Fame two years ago, leaves behind his partner Anna and a young son and daughter.
Anyone suffering from suicidal thoughts or needing someone to talk to can access free support by calling the Samaritans on 116 123.
(© Independent News Service)
Independent News Service