Olivia Podmore funeral: ‘A sad day for cyclists across NZ’ – family friend
Champion cyclist Olivia Podmore is being farewelled by close friends and family in Christchurch.
Mourners have been filing into the Magestic Church this morning with friend Mike Pero saying several hundred people were expected to gather for the private service, which would be relayed to grieving teammates of the 24-year-old sportswoman who remain in managed isolation after competing at the Olympic Games.
Pero said Podmore’s family were going through an extreme amount of heartache since her sudden death at the weekend.
“It’s been a parent’s worst nightmare – this should not be happening,” said Pero.
“It’s a sad day for cyclists across New Zealand.
“She was one of New Zealand’s best.
“She’s a lovely girl and it’s just a shame that this has all happened.”
He said the family were planning a “send-off that she would want”.
“Hopefully it will all go well – I’m sure it will – and we’ll say goodbye to Livvy Podmore.”
He said Covid travel restrictions had made the situation difficult for those close to her who had travelled to Japan to compete in the Olympics and not able to attend in person.
“We feel for those Olympians that are in MIQ. It’s just so sad that they can’t be with Liv today and say farewell – it’s real a shame – but that’s the way it is.”
He said a livestream of the service was being arranged for those friends and family who were prevented from attending through travel bans and quarantine restrictions.
Meanwhile, a memorial ride in honour of the Olympic track cyclist was planned to take place around the Garden City tomorrow.
“It’s for all her friends and cyclists and anyone who wants to join in to acknowledge Liv,”said Pero.
Earlier this week, Olympic rower and close friend Eric Murray shared his shock at losing Podmore.
“I was with her this time yesterday and I wish she had said something,” Murray said.
“[The loss] reverberates through not only Cambridge and Christchurch, but the sporting fraternity.
“We’ve lost a sister, a friend, and a fighter who lost that will of fight inside of her.”
He said he hadn’t seen any signs that she was struggling with her mental health.
“If you had seen Olivia in the last 72 hours, you wouldn’t have thought what’s happened [would happen],” said the rower.
Sport NZ CEO Raelene Castle revealed the sportswoman had reached out for support before her death.
Cycling NZ chief executive Jacques Landry said he had been at world cups with Podmore and said she was a very happy person, outgoing and would light up the room. Her death was a “tremendous loss”, he said.
Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said while Podmore’s teammates would not be able to get an exemption from managed isolation to attend the funeral, facility staff were doing their best to support those in isolation and”surround them in love”.
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