American bobsleigh Olympian Pavle Jovanovic dies at 43

Tributes flooding in from fellow bobsleigh athletes 

Pavle Jovanovic, an Olympian who competed in bobsleigh at the Torino 2006 Games for the United States, has died aged 43.

The national federation, USA Bobsled and Skeleton, announced the news in a statement on Saturday night, saying Jovanovic passed away last Sunday (3 May) after taking his own life.

"The winter sports community has suffered a tragic loss," said the federation's CEO Aron McGuire.

McGuire, who competed with Jovanovic, added: "Pavle’s impact on each of us will be remembered and celebrated."

Brakeman Pavle Jovanovic (at rear) and pilot Todd Hays (front) of Team USA-1 compete at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games. (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)
Brakeman Pavle Jovanovic (at rear) and pilot Todd Hays (front) of Team USA-1 compete at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games. (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)Brakeman Pavle Jovanovic (at rear) and pilot Todd Hays (front) of Team USA-1 compete at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games. (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

Jovanovic missed the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City as he was serving a suspension for a banned steroid, which he said he took unknowingly.

Two years later, he won a bronze medal at the World Championships, then at the 2006 Games, he finished seventh in both the two-man and four-man teams.

In 2005, he had pushed for Steven Holcomb, who died in May 2017.

Tributes have flooded in from fellow bobsleigh athletes.

Elana Meyers Taylor said: "I only was a teammate with him for a short period of time, but he showed me what it meant to be an elite athlete. The [USA Bobsled and Skeleton federation] lost another great. RIP Pavle."

And Olympic champion Steven Mesler called Jovanovic his "personal legend".

View this post on Instagram

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. 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. @TeamUSA's Pavle Jovanovic (‘77-‘20) for 6 years was the best bobsledder on the planet and I wanted to be just like him. We did everything together – from sushi in Calgary to poker in Innsbruck to wind tunnels in Maryland and too many World Cup medals to count all over the world. Together with @billschuffenhauer, B-Rock, Hays or Holcy & our coach @fingermash, we were unstoppable. When Pav was removed from the ‘02 Olympic Team by USADA & CAS, I benefitted. That guilt laid with me until Pav became my roommate, teammate, and for quite some time, my best friend. He alleviated me of the guilt, even as he fought in lawsuits (and won) to clear his name. But he buried it deep and put it on himself. Then we went to the '06 @olympics, together. Pav was the best teammate anyone ever had. 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. And that may have been part of his downfall. What happens when the person who is best known as being 150% focused or nothing– finds the nothing becoming what they become 150% focused on? In the last era without social media to show everyone how hard you were working; when the only time an outsider understood the work you put in was when you crossed the line on raceday – Pavle was King. He WAS the standard. Today we mourn the second bobsled Olympian in the last three years. Today I mourn the second of the six men I competed at the Olympics for my country with to be laid to rest too soon. 'Bro', that’s a problem.

A post shared by Steve Mesler (@stevemmesler) on

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