Tributes have been paid to Gary Dighton, who rode for Great Britain at the 1992 Olympics and has died at the age of 46 after reportedly taking his own life.
Dighton, who lived near Wareham, Dorset, rode as part of the Great Britain quartet in the team time trial at Barcelona, the last time it was an Olympic event, the four riders finishing in 14th place.
He gave up cycling in 1998 but returned to the sport with Poole Wheelers a decade later, and was a popular figure on the Dorset and south west time trialling scene.
He is said to have battled with depression in recent years and as news of his death spread over the weekend, many people who knew him posted messages on the Sportsmassagebournemouth.co.uk blog.
Bill Temple of the Primera bike shop in Bournemouth said: “Lovely guy who always came in with a big smile. Super fast on a bike and a genuine great all round person.
“Raced TTs for us and was very professional at all times. He will be missed by lots of people but will never be forgotten.
“Rest in peace Gary."
Les Pick wrote: "Whilst this is one of the saddest days of my life I would like to speak for the immediate family and Gary's closest friends and say how touched we are that so many people remember this special man so fondly and I'd like to thank everyone for their thoughts and kind words.
“Perhaps Gary never realised how much we friends all thought of him but I hope that he's looking down on this and is overwhelmed.
“A fierce competitor and nice guy to so many who have paid tribute to him. I'll miss him dishing out pain, I'll miss his dry sense of humour and I'll miss him when he's not looking across a dual carriageway at me, trying to work out how far ahead he was
“Where ever you are mate, I hope you're giving it some good old fashioned RootyToot! It won't be the same here without you."
Paul Sloper said: “Just heard about the sad loss of Gary Dighton, local rider and all round top guy. RIP, thoughts to family and friends from all at Sarum Velo, please pass on our condolences.”
In an interview with the Dorset Echo ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Dighton recalled how conditions for the country’s top cyclists were very different when he rode at Barcelona.
“In 1992, cycling was not as high profile as it is now,” he said. “The sport has certainly come on leaps and bounds, which is great.
The former Royal Mail worker said: “When I was riding in 1992, we were all working full-time so we had to fit our training around a job. It was difficult but we did get special leave.
“Now, the guys are full-time athletes and get all the scientific back up and all that support, which is great. I think that has helped their success.”
He gave up cycling in 1998 but returned to the sport with Poole Wheelers in 2010, and was a popular figure on the Dorset time trialling scene.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.