Former U.S. Olympic bobsledder Pavle Jovanovic has died by suicide at the age of 43. The news was confirmed by U.S.A. Bobsled and Skeleton on Saturday. He was part of the team that won a World Championship bronze medal in 2004.
"The winter sports community has suffered a tragic loss," said USA Bobsled/Skeleton CEO Aron McGuire in a statement Saturday. "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 bringing 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."
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Jovanovic first started in bobsled in 1997 and was immediately viewed as a gifted brakeman. He pushed from the rear of the sled and was responsible for getting it stopped at the end of each run. The prospects seemed bright for Jovanovic, but his career underwent a delay. He was preparing for an Olympic debut in 2002 at the Winter Games in Salt Lake City but was disqualified.
According to NBC Sports, Jovanovic had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He was suspended for two years, insisted he unknowingly took a contaminated supplement and sued the manufacturer. Jovanovic returned in 2006 and took part in both two- and four-man events at the Olympics. Both teams finished in seventh place.
"Pav, I can't believe another one of these needs to be written," Olympic teammate Steve Mesler posted on Instagram. "I can’t believe it's you I'm writing this about. 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." Mesler also said that Jovanovic was the "best bobsledder on the planet" for six years.
Jovanovic is the second Olympic teammate that Mesler has said goodbye to in the past three years. Steve Holcomb, was found dead in his U.S. Olympic Training Center room in Lake Placid, N.Y., on May 6, 2017. Mesler said that "it's a problem" that he is mourning the second of the six men that he competed with.
If you or someone you know are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.