The parents of Australian cyclist Melissa Dennis, née Hoskins, have paid tribute to their daughter after she was hit by a driver and killed on Saturday night.
The 32-year-old’s husband, retired pro Rohan Dennis, was reportedly at the wheel of the car and has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving. Dennis is currently on bail and will appear at Adelaide Magistrates Court on 13 March.
In a statement shared by AusCycling, Hoskins’ parents wrote: “Words cannot convey our grief, sadness and the tragic circumstances of Melissa’s passing.
“Not only have we lost a daughter and a sister, her children have lost their mum, a freewheeling spirit, a giver with a big heart, patience and zest for life.”
A former team pursuit world champion, Hoskins competed on the track at two Olympic Games before retiring in 2017, aged 25.
She married Dennis the following year and the couple went on to have two children.
“She was the rock of their life and ours,” Hoskins’ parents wrote, “and we need to honour her memory so they can grow up knowing who she was, what she stood for and what she gave to everyone whose life she touched.
“The outpouring of sadness and support has overwhelmed us. In her short life Melissa has had so many positive touch points in and around the world.”
Further tributes to Hoskins have come from across cycling, with the Australian community mourning the loss of a popular talent.
Former team-mate Annette Edmondson wrote on Instagram that the world has lost “one of its shining stars”.
“[She was] a fun, loving, hilarious person, who was so talented in so many areas,” Edmondson added. “A force to be reckoned with, she took the track and road cycling world by storm, before pursuing her next dream, starting a family and becoming the ultimate mum.”
Two-time Olympic champion Anna Meares wrote that the news has left her with a “very heavy heart”, while Rachel Neylan, who rode with Hoskins at Orica-AIS, said she was “consumed by shock and deep deep sadness”.
AusCycling CEO Marne Fechner described Hoskins as an “athlete of rare prowess”, who “thrilled and inspired” with her riding.
Hoskins’ funeral will take place in her hometown of Perth, with a memorial service set to be held in Adelaide after this month’s Tour Down Under.
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