Investigation into culture at Cycling New Zealand after Olympian Olivia Podmore's death

Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Podmore won silver in the team sprint and bronze in the time trial at the 2015 Junior World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan, to qualify her for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She represented New Zealand at Rio 2016 and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Podmore did not represent New Zealand at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.   -  AP

Cycling New Zealand and the governing body for the high-performance sport in the country (HPSNZ) on Thursday commissioned an independent inquiry following the death of Olympian Olivia Podmore at the age of 24 last week.

Podmore competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast but was not part of New Zealand's team at the recent Tokyo Games.

The police did not confirm the cause of death. But a friend raised concerns about her mental health, and sports officials said the cyclist had reached out to support services offered to athletes.

In a joint statement, the cycling governing body and HPSNZ said the inquiry would include the adequacy of the changes made after a 2018 investigation into the high-performance programme of the sport in New Zealand.

New Zealand track cyclist and Olympian Olivia Podmore dies aged 24  

The Heron Review had found that a series of claims -- including bullying and inappropriate behaviour -- made about the culture of the programme were true and that HPSNZ should have done more with the information it had.

"We have been listening carefully to the voices of athletes who have spoken out or made contact with us directly," Cycling NZ Chairman Phil Holden said on Thursday.

"The board are very clear. They want to make sure that those perspectives are built into this inquiry right from the start.

"Given how closely we work with HPSNZ, it is important that all of our individual and joint systems are reviewed concurrently."

HPSNZ Chief Executive Raelene Castle, who said last week support for athletes in programmes was not perfect, added that Podmore's death had raised serious questions about athlete wellbeing.

"Olivia's death has focused our attention once more on the complex issues surrounding athlete welfare and wellbeing, issues that the system has grappled with across several years," she said.

Last week, Cycling NZ said it would review its mental health support for athletes.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :