Speed Skating World Champion Lara van Ruijven, 27, Dies of Complications from Autoimmune Disorder

Lara van Ruijven had been in intensive care since June 29 after feeling unwell

Lara van Ruijven
Photo: Soccrates/Getty

Lara van Ruijven, a world champion short track speed racer, died from complications of an autoimmune disorder at age 27.

The Dutch Olympian — who won bronze at the 2018 Games in PyeongChang — had been hospitalized since late June after suddenly becoming ill during training camp, according to the New Zealand Herald. After being placed in a medically induced coma and undergoing surgery, van Ruijven died on Friday.

“What horrible news we've just received. Her loss will be felt through the whole sporting world,” Dutch short track coach Jeroen Otter said after van Ruijven's death, 7NEWS reported.

"It is an enormous blow for a close-knit group," he continued. "We’ve missed her over the last two weeks but today’s news is so definite and surreal."

According to Yahoo, van Ruijven won the speed skating 500-meter title at the world championships in Bulgaria last year.

The Royal Dutch Skating Federation (KNSB) director Herman de Haan said van Ruijven's was "hard to comprehend."

"We feel the pain for her family and the short track team," he reportedly said. "On behalf of KNSB, I want to wish Lara's friends and family strength with dealing with this great loss."

Maurits Hendriks, KNSB's technical director, said van Ruijven was a "welcome teammate."

"I got to know her as a successful and fully alive young top athlete and a welcome teammate," Hendriks said, according to 7NEWS.

"The sadness of her friends and everyone who knew her is great. We wish them much strength in coping with this incomprehensible loss," he continued. "Let’s hold tight and support each other during this difficult time."

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Van Ruijven's death comes shortly after 32-year-old Olympic snowboarder Alex Pullin died in a spearfishing accident in Australia. Pullin was found unconscious on the seafloor by another diver, Gold Coast Police District Duty Officer Chris Tritton told Australia's 9 News.

"He didn't have an oxygen mask, we understand he was free diving and spearfishing out on the reef," Tritton said. "It appears he was diving alone. There were other divers out there, but he was not with a friend."

The two-time world champion snowboarder was an experienced diver who frequented Palm Beach prior to his death, according to the outlet.

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