The mountain bike rider Rab Wardell died at the age of 37, just days after competing at, and winning, the Scottish MTB XC Championships.
Scottish Cycling confirmed on Tuesday evening that Wardell had died in his sleep. Wardell appeared on BBC Scotland’s The Nine program on Monday evening to talk about his victory on Sunday.
“We are devastated to confirm the news that international mountain biker and former employee, Rab Wardell, has passed away today,” a statement from Scottish Cycling said.
“We have very little information at this stage, but we send our love and support to his family, friends, and all those in our community who knew him. We ask that you respect Rab’s family’s privacy at this incredibly sad time.”
Wardell’s partner, the track cyclist Katie Archibald, tweeted on Wednesday that he had suffered a “cardiac arrest” on Tuesday morning.
“I think you’ve heard that Rab died yesterday morning,” wrote Archibald, “I still don’t understand what’s happened; if this is real; why he’d be taken now – so healthy and happy.
“He went into cardiac arrest while we were lying in bed. I tried and tried, and the paramedics arrived within minutes, but his heart stopped and they couldn’t bring him back.”
Wardell won the elite men’s title at Kirroughtree Forest in Dumfries & Galloway on Sunday, overcoming several punctures to win on the final lap. His victory was described as a “show of incredible resilience” by British Cycling.
Sunday’s race organizers, the Scottish Cross Country Association, paid their own tribute to Wardell on Facebook.
“He will be truly missed by our community and his determination, talent and friendship will live on in all our hearts and memories,” a statement said. “I’m sure more eloquent words will be written by many but RIP Rab. Our champion, our inspiration, our friend.”
The six-time Olympic gold medallist, Sir Chris Hoy, tweeted: “Can’t believe this. Utterly heartbreaking. Rest in peace Rab.”
Wardell, who lived with Archibald in Glasgow, had been racing mountain bikes since he was a teenager, but only turned professional earlier this year.