Two-time Olympic track cyclist and former world champion Melissa Hoskins has died after a car accident in the country’s south, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said on Monday. The 32-year-old suffered severe injuries when she was hit by a vehicle on Saturday evening in north Adelaide, Australia’s capital city, and died at a hospital overnight, police said. The AOC offered its condolences to the family of the late cyclist, who was also a double Commonwealth medallist.
The death of the mother-of-two has sent shockwaves through the cycling world, with many paying tribute to a highly accomplished athlete and an even more dedicated wife and mother. Police have arrested her husband, 33-year-old Rohan Dennis, a former professional cyclist who had formerly competed in Grand Tour events like the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, for driving offenses linked to her death.
Australian media has widely reported that Dennis, who had retired from professional cycling in 2023, was behind the wheel of a utility vehicle when he allegedly struck Hoskins at their home in the suburb of Medindie on Saturday night. He has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving, driving without due care, and endangering life and was bailed to appear in court in March.
Police allege that the couple were engaged in a physical fight before she jumped onto the bonnet of the vehicle and grabbed at a handle to try to get free, the News Corp Australia newspaper reported. The ute was then driven away, and Ms Hoskins was dragged along, according to police. Ms. Hoskins fell to the ground, and her teenage neighbors tried to give first aid before paramedics arrived.
A police statement released on Sunday said Hoskins suffered severe injuries and was rushed to Royal Adelaide Hospital, where she later died overnight. The couple married in 2018 and have two children together, reports say. Born in Kalamunda, Western Australia, Ms Hoskins competed for Australia at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics on the track in team pursuit. She won a gold medal in the event at the 2015 World Championships.
Ms. Hoskins had been due to lead a family ride at this month’s Santos Tour Down Under cycling race in Adelaide, but the event organizers removed her from the lineup on their website. A spokesman for the race told the AFP news agency that the event’s organizers were in contact with the local police and are continuing to investigate the incident.
The AOC’s chief executive, Marne Fechner, called it a “tragic incident” and urged people to “please respect the grieving family of this great Australian athlete.” She added that the organization would be providing support to the cycling community. The death of Hoskins has dominated the headlines in Australian media and sparked outrage on social media. The Australian Cycling Federation has stated condolence to the family and friends of the late cyclist. It is understood the sport will be extending its support to other affected athletes and officials.