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- New Zealand cyclist (1997-2021)
New Zealand rower Eric Murray has revealed he spent the final few days of Olivia Podmore's life with the cyclist before her tragic death on Monday.
Podmore, who rode for New Zealand at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, died suddenly on Monday at the age of 24.
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A New Zealand police spokesman said police attended a sudden death at a property in Waikato on New Zealand's upper North Island on Monday afternoon.
Podmore's cause of death was not confirmed, but a friend raised concerns about her mental health and the cyclist had reached out to support services offered to athletes.
Former Olympic rowing champion Murray said he was with Podmore on Monday and described her death as a "shock and a tragedy."
"I wish she had said something," the 39-year-old told reporters in Cambridge, a high performance hub in New Zealand for cycling and other sports.
"We have lost a sister, a friend and a fighter who lost that will of fight inside of her.
“I was the last person to see her alive. If you had seen her in the last 72 hours, you wouldn't have thought this could happen.
"That's why there's so much talk about mental health at the moment."
Murray reportedly spent the weekend with Podmore snowboarding in Queenstown.
He made mention of Podmore's final social media post in which she detailed the pressures of being an elite athlete, before deleting it.
“With Olivia’s final words she left us a message - a message we wish will never have to be read again by anybody else,” he said.
Olivia Podmore reached out for support before death
The issue of athletes and mental health has been in the spotlight since Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open and skipped Wimbledon.
American gymnast Simone Biles also pulled out of most of her Olympic events in Tokyo, citing a need to take care of her mental health.
Sport NZ CEO Raelene Castle revealed Podmore had reached out for support before her death.
Castle said support for athletes in programs was not perfect.
"Her legacy has to be that we make improvements," she told reporters.
Cycling NZ chief executive Jacques Landry said the organisation would be “questioning ... for a long time” if it had failed Podmore, saying her death was a “tremendous loss”.
"Right now for us it's about focusing on the wellbeing of the people who are here and having to deal with this loss," he told a media conference.
"There will be a time for us actually to review and look at if and where we would have had missteps or where we didn't act properly."
The New Zealand Olympic Committee said news of Podmore's death had reached the national cycling team just minutes before they were due to fly home from Tokyo.
"We are providing wellbeing support for members of her team and the wider team as we return home from Tokyo," NZOC said in a statement.
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