Former Olympic and world champion Stephen Wooldridge dies, aged 39

Australian track rider leaves behind two children

Stephen Wooldridge (second from left) has died aged 39 (Sunada)

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Former Olympic and world track champion, Stephen Wooldridge, has died aged 39.

The Australian rider's death was confirmed by Cycling New South Wales on August 15, describing him as an "inspirational figure" and a "very special person."

Wooldridge won Olympic gold in the 4,000m team pursuit at the Athens games in 2004, as well as four World Championship gold medals in the same event during his career.

After retiring from cycling, Wooldridge sat on the board of Cycling Australia between 2007 and 2013.

"Stephen was an inspirational figure in track cycling, particularly in his home state of NSW," Cycling NSW said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Cycling NSW's thoughts are with Stephen's family and his friends during this difficult time."

Phil Bates, a cycling promoter and friend of Wooldridge also paid tribute after his death had been announced .

"Tragically today he gave his life away leaving behind a son and daughter, family and friends just short of his 40th birthday," Bates said.

“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.”

Close friend and fellow cyclist, Bruce-John McIntosh, posted a heartfelt letter on Facebook reacting to the news.

"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?"

"You had a loving family, Amazing friends, achieved more than most people could ever achieve in 10 lifetimes" the team pursuiter said.

Wooldridge's exploits earned him a spot in the New South Wales Sports Hall of Fame two years ago. He is survived by 10-year-old son, seven-year-old daughter, his former wife and his current partner.

Crisis support service is available from the Samaritans in the UK by phoning 116 123.

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