Pavle Jovanovic

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Olympic bobsledder Pavle Jovanovic died from suicide on Sunday, May 3. He was 43. 

"The winter sports community has suffered a tragic loss," said USA Bobsled/Skeleton CEO Aron McGuire in a statement on May 9. "Pavle's passion and commitment towards bobsled was seen and felt by his teammates, coaches, competitors, and fans of the sport. He lived life to the fullest and had a lasting influence on all those who had the opportunity to spend time with him. Whether Pavle was pushing his teammates to be their best on the track and in the weight room, or brining laughter to friends, he was known for always giving 100% on everything that he focused on. Pavle's impact on each of us will be remembered and celebrated."

McGuire was also a former teammate of Jovanovic's. 

On social media, the late Olympic bobsledder's teammates shared tributes of their own

Former U.S. bobsled coach Greg Sand wrote in a tribute on Facebook: "We lost another good one in sliding sport this past week. If there was ever a bobsledder born to push heavy objects, man it was Pavle. Pavle was definitely a one of a kind original." 

The Toms River, New Jersey native started bobsledding in 1997. 

Jovanovic went on to win a World Championship bronze medal in 2004. In 2006, he went on to finish seventh in both the two- and four- man events at the Winter Olympics that year with Todd Hays. 

"You never know what people are going through from outward appearances," another former teammate Jason Dorsey wrote on Facebook. "We have to talk to them and listen more. I'm going to work on that going forward."

Former bobsledder Clayton Meeks replied to Dorsey on Facebook, echoing a similar sentiment: "To me, Pav exuded that super confident athlete, who could back up his brashness. You never know what's going on in someone's head."

On Instagram, three-time Olympian and bobsledder Steve Mesler wrote a heartbreaking tribute in response to Jovanovic's death. 

"Pav, I can't believe another one of these needs to be written. I can't believe it's you I'm writing this about," Mesler wrote, alongside pictures and videos of the late athlete. "My personal legend – the athlete that set the standard for focus, dedication, meticulousness, and drive – tragically took his own life at the age of 43. You won't have to keep going to the line with that hamstring torn in half anymore, buddy. We'll make sure your brother, your sister, & your parents know the person and athlete you were."

Mesler also called Jovanovic "the best teammate anyone ever had."

He went on: "He knew your success would mean his success. He taught me that. He taught me to care about my teammates' sleep, nutrition, therapy, & work ethic in the gym and behind closed doors just as much as I cared about my own. He taught me about the need for being mentally healthy – not for life, but for athletic success." 

If you or someone you know is struggling, please call Lifeline at 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.

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