Ellie Soutter’s father has said the intense pressure placed on young athletes may have played a role in her death.
The young snowboarder died last week on her 18th birthday shortly after missing a flight which meant she was unable to make a training with her Team GB squad.
Tony Soutter, 53, told the BBC: “She felt she’d let them down, felt she’d let me down and just tragically it just takes one silly little thing like that to tip someone over the edge, because there’s a lot of pressure on children.”
Ellie was a bronze medallist for Team GB at the 2017 Youth Olympic Winter Festival and carried the British flag at the closing ceremony and was tipped to represent Britain at the Winter Olympics in 2022.
Her father added: “She wanted to be the best.
“She didn’t want to let anybody down. Unfortunately it all came about from missing a flight which then meant she didn’t go training with the GB squad.”
Soutter highlighted the immense pressure young athletes face in the highly competitive world of sport, saying: “Mental health awareness needs to be really looked at and made more public.
“I have lost my best friend, my total buddy. She was my rock”
Ellie’s funeral will take place on Thursday at Les Gets in the French Alps where she had lived since 2010 and where her snowboarding talents were first spotted.
Fellow Team GB snowboarder Aimee Fuller wrote of Soutter: “Waking up to the most devastating news this morning. My thoughts and prayers go out to Ellie Soutter’s family.
“We’ve lost a fellow snowboarder and a great inspirational talent within our small community.”
And Olympic champion and presenter Amy Williams wrote on Twitter: “Such sad tragic news to wake up to. Thoughts and prayers go to Ellie Soutter’s family.”
British Olympic Association chair Hugh Robertson and British Olympic Association athlete commission chair Ben Hawes described Ellie as an “incredibly popular and well-liked member of the team”.
“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time”
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org