Former Team USA Olympic bobsledder Pavle Jovanovic dies at 43

Pavle Jovanovic, left, with teammate Todd Hays after finishing third in the two-man bobsled at the 2005 world championships in Austria. (AP/Kerstin Joensson)

Former Olympic bobsledder Pavle Jovanovic died last week by suicide, USA Bobsled/Skeleton announced on Saturday night. 

He was 43.

“Pavle’s passion and commitment towards bobsled was seen and felt by his teammates, coaches, competitors, and fans of the sport,” USA Bobsled/Skeleton CEO Aron McGuire said in a statement. “He lived life to the fullest and had a lasting influence on all those who had the opportunity to spend time with him. Whether Pavle was pushing his teammates to be their best on the track and in the weight room, or bringing laughter to friends, he was known for always giving 100 percent on everything that he focused on. Pavle’s impact on each of us will be remembered and celebrated.”

The New Jersey native won a bronze medal at the 2004 world championships with teammate and driver Todd Hays, and finished seventh in both the two-man and four-man events at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. Jovanovic also pushed Steven Holcomb’s sled at the 2005 World Championships. Holcomb, who led the United States to its first four-man title in more than 62 years at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, died in his sleep in 2017.

Jovanovic was supposed to compete in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, too, however he missed the games after testing positive for a banned steroid — which he said he unknowingly took. 

Jovanovic competed for the U.S. on the world cup circuit through 2008 and won 19 total medals, and then raced five times for Serbia in 2011.

Several of his former teammates posted tributes on social media after the news broke.

“Pav was the best teammate anyone ever had,” Steve Mesler said on Instagram, in part. “He knew your success would mean his success. He taught me that. He taught me to care about my teammates’ sleep, nutrition, therapy an d work ethic in the gym and behind closed doors just as much as you cared about your own. He taught me about the need for being mentally healthy — not for life, but for athletic success.”

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