The Australian team of Graeme Brown, Peter Dawson, Brett Lancaster and Stephen Wooldridge during the men's team pursuit at the Olympic velodrome in Athens in 2004.
The Australian team of Graeme Brown, Peter Dawson, Brett Lancaster and Stephen Wooldridge during the men's team pursuit at the Olympic velodrome in Athens in 2004. ERIC RISBERG

Australian cycling mourns loss of Olympic champion

AUSTRALIAN cycling is mourning the death of Olympic champion Stephen Wooldridge at the age of 39.

Wooldridge was part of the Australian team pursuit that won gold on the track in the 2004 Athens Olympics and won four world titles in the same event in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006.

He also won a gold and silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and in 2015 was inducted into the NSW Hall of Champions in recognition of his career.

At the Athens Olympics, Wooldridge rode the preliminary round of the team pursuit along with Peter Dawson before making way for Graeme Brown, Brad McGee, Brett Lancaster and Luke Roberts in the final as Australia beat Great Britain. But the IOC ruled that all riders who took part in any round would be awarded the same medal as those in the final.

Australia has not won Olympic gold in the team pursuit since 2004, finishing fourth in Beijing and second in both London and Rio.

Friends and former teammates including Scott McGrory and Phil Bates have paid tribute to Wooldridge on social media but Cycling Australia was yet to comment or release a statement on Tuesday morning.

Cycling NSW released a statement that said it was "deeply saddened" to hear of Wooldridge's passing.

 

Stephen Wooldridge (right) with Peter Dawson, Luke Roberts and Ashley Hutchinson after winning the gold medal during the 2004 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne.
Stephen Wooldridge (right) with Peter Dawson, Luke Roberts and Ashley Hutchinson after winning the gold medal during the 2004 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne. Mark Dadswell

"Stephen was an inspirational figure in track cycling, particularly in his home state of NSW," the statement said.

"He was an outstanding team pursuiter, being a four-time world champion in the discipline along with being the 2002 Commonwealth Games champion. Perhaps his greatest feat, occurring at the 2004 Athens Olympics, was where, with his teammates Dawson, Lancaster, Brown, McGee and Roberts, he took gold for Australia.

"Stephen was inducted into the NSW Sports Hall of Fame in 2015; an honour he was delighted to receive both personally and for the sport of cycling.

"Stephen went on to pursue a career in the tertiary education sector primarily with the University of NSW, where he was a prominent administrator. This extended to his various roles with Cycling Australia and Oceania Cycling Confederation Boards and Committees.

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

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