"Pavle’s impact on each of us will be remembered and celebrated," USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Aron McGuire said

By Claudia Harmata
May 11, 2020 11:50 AM
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Former U.S. Olympic bobsledder Pavle Jovanovic has died. He was 43.

The USA Bobsled and Skeleton released a statement on Saturday confirming that Jovanovic died by suicide on Sunday, May 3.

“The winter sports community has suffered a tragic loss,” USA Bobsled/Skeleton CEO and former teammate of Jovanovic, Aron McGuire said in a statement. “Pavle’s passion and commitment towards bobsled was seen and felt by his teammates, coaches, competitors, and fans of the sport."

Jovanovic was a native of Toms River, New Jersey, and first began his career in the sport in 1997. In 2004 he secured a bronze medal at the World Championship.

When he was 25, he was preparing to make his Olympic debut at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City but tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and was disqualified. However, he made his return in 2006 when he finished seventh in both two-and four-man events at the Olympics with driver Todd Hays.

Pavle Jovanovic
Matthew Stockman/Getty

"He lived life to the fullest and had a lasting influence on all those who had the opportunity to spend time with him," McGuire continued. "Whether Pavle was pushing his teammates to be their best on the track and in the weight room, or brining laughter to friends, he was known for always giving 100% on everything that he focused on. Pavle’s impact on each of us will be remembered and celebrated."

Pavle Jovanovic
Ed Andrieski/AP/Shutterstock

Several of Jovanovic's teammates remembered their friend in heartfelt tributes on social media. Olympic gold medalist Steve Mesler wrote that Jovanovic was his “personal legend."

"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," Mesler began his emotional post. "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."

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"Pav was the best teammate anyone ever had. He knew your success would mean his success. He taught me that," the athlete added. "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."

"Pavle was King. He WAS the standard."

Three-time Olympic medalist bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor said that while she was "only a teammate with him for a short period of time" Jovanovic taught her "what it meant to be an elite athlete."

"The @usabs lost another great. RIP Pavle," she shared.

Pavle Jovanovic
David J Phillip/AP/Shutterstock

Former U.S. bobsled coach Greg Sand also paid homage to Jovanovic.

"We lost another great one in sliding sport this past week. Pavle was what you might imagine a Rottweiler in human form to be; tough as nails, built like a brick shit house, and a work ethic forged by his family’s steele fabrication business," Sand wrote. "If you were going into the battle of competition, Pav was one of those athletes you wanted on your side. His low baritone “YO!” could light up a room as he slightly embellished stories on tour."

"I’ll long remember Pavle laughing and giving me shit, and maybe embellishing a little bit, the one time I had to actually push in a WC race heat at Königssee in his sled (definitely NOT our first choice). I can hear him now laughing and ribbing me about 'going deeeeep' (in his Jersey baritone)... although, I’m pretty sure he was just ecstatic I got in the damn sled lol," Sand recalled. "If there was ever a bobsledder born to push heavy objects, man it was Pavle. Pavle was definitely a one of a kind original. YO... RIP brother!"

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.