TOMS RIVER, NJ – Olympic bobsledder Pavle Jovanovic took his life on Sunday, May 3 at the age of 43. The Toms River, N.J. native started the sport of bobsled in 1997. He went on to win a World Championship bronze medal in 2004, and to finish seventh in both the two-and four-man events at the 2006 Winter Olympics with Todd Hays.
“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. 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.”
Jovanovic’s former teammates united on Facebook as news of his passing spread.
“We lost another good one in sliding sport this past week,” former U.S. bobsled coach Greg Sand wrote in a tribute. “If there was ever a bobsledder born to push heavy objects, man it was Pavle. Pavle was definitely a one of a kind original.”
“You never know what people are going through from outward appearances,” former teammate Jason Dorsey commented on Facebook. “We have to talk to them and listen more. I’m going to work on that going forward.”
“To me, Pav exuded that super confident athlete, who could back up his brashness,” Clayton Meeks, also a former bobsledder, wrote in response to Dorsey. “You never know what’s going on in someone’s head.”
Jovanovic was the definition of a team leader. He understood that the team’s success was necessary for his own, and cheered when his teammates won, even if he wasn’t personally throwing his hands up in victory on the medal stand.
Olympic gold medalist Steve Mesler wrote that Jovanovic was his “personal legend,” and “the athlete that set the standard for focus, dedication, meticulousness, and drive” in his life and on for the team.
“Pavle was king. He WAS the standard,” Mesler wrote.
The community of bobsled and skeleton athletes that competed alongside Jovanovic unites as they mourn the loss of a teammate and provide support to his family. Being a teammate extends beyond the ice.
If you have a story you’d like to contribute to the USA Bobsled/Skeleton website about Jovanovic, please send it to Amanda Bird at firstname.lastname@example.org so it can be shared with the community.