Tributes mounted as word spread this weekend of the sudden death last week of former U.S. Olympic bobsledder -- and Jersey Shore native -- Pavle Jovanovic.
Jovanovic took his own life last Sunday, USA Bobsled/Skeleton reported. He was 43.
Olympic 2006 teammate Steve Mesler called Jovanovic his “personal legend, the athlete [who] set the standard for focus, dedication, meticulousness, and drive.
For six years, Mesler said, Jovanovic “was the best bobsledder on the planet and I wanted to be just like him.
“Pav was the best teammate anyone ever had. He knew your success would mean his success….He taught me about the need for being mentally healthy – not for life, but for athletic success.
“Pavle was King. He WAS the standard.”
USA Bobsled & Skeleton wrote: “You inspired us all with your dedication and talent to the sport, Pavle, but you changed us with your laughter.”
Jovanovic earned three varsity letters in football at Toms River High School East and was later inducted into the school district’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
He won a World Championship bronze medal in bobsledding in 2004 and finished 7th in both the two-and four-man events at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
“The winter sports community has suffered a tragic loss,” said USA Bobsled/Skeleton CEO Aron McGuire, who was also a former teammate of Jovanovic’s. “Pavle’s passion and commitment towards bobsled was seen and felt by his teammates, coaches, competitors, and fans of the sport.
“He lived life to the fullest and had a lasting influence on all those who had the opportunity to spend time with him.”
“We lost another good one in sliding sport this past week,” wrote former U.S. bobsled coach Greg Sand in a post. “If there was ever a bobsledder born to push heavy objects, man, it was Pavle. Pavle was definitely a one of a kind original.”
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