Dean Woods, the prodigiously talented track cyclist best known as a member of the “Charlie’s Angels” team pursuit squad, has died.
A post on his Facebook page paid tribute to Woods, who was 55.
“Today our boy rode his final lap. He’ll be missed by everybody whose lives he touched,” the post on Thursday afternoon read.
“Admired, loved and respected by all. A truly iconic legend.”
Woods had just turned 18 when he was the youngest member of the team pursuit squad that upset the favoured United States quartet to win the gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Woods, Mike Turtur, Michael Grenda and Kevin Nichols won Australia’s first Olympic gold medal since 1956.
Their upset win over the Americans brought the regime of national coach Charlie Walsh to widespread attention and led to the squad’s nickname.
It proved a pivotal success, marking the start of a sustained era of international success for the Australian track program.
Walsh said in a Sport Australia Hall Of Fame statement that he was thankful to have had Woods as a friend.
“There are people in life we admire, and Dean Woods was one of those,” Walsh said of his fellow Hall of Fame member.
“(He) was an exceptional cyclist and an even better person.
“Whatever others were capable of doing, he had to do it, and if possible, better.
“He always sought to treat others with respect and dignity.”
Woods was an all-time great of Australian cycling, winning another three Olympic medals after the LA gold.
He won a silver and bronze at the 1988 Seoul Games and returned in 1996 to claim bronze in the team pursuit at the Atlanta Olympics.
Woods was a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist who also set a world record and four national records, won three world championships and 20 national titles.
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said across three Games, Woods’ feats on the track were “extraordinary”.
“Cycling and the Olympic movement in Australia have lost a champion,” Coates said.
More recently Woods, who had been battling cancer, was a fierce critic of AusCycling and the Australian Olympic sports system in general.
After the Australian track team’s disappointing medal haul of one bronze at the Tokyo Games, Woods called for a “total reset” of the cycling high-performance system in this country.