AusCycling paid tribute to Melissa Dennis (née Hoskins) after the tragic death of the Olympian and former world champion on New Year’s Eve, with the organisation in the process of settling on a fitting way to memorialise the Australian rider.
“Melissa, a mother, daughter, and wife, was also a champion cyclist who thrilled and inspired us with her exquisite skills on the track and road,” said AusCycling CEO Marne Fechner in a media statement.
“Melissa began her competitive cycling career at just 16, and by the time she retired at the age of 25 she had shown the world that she was an athlete of rare prowess.”
Hoskins had focussed on the track, where she claimed the world title as part of the team pursuit squad in 2015 and competed in the Olympic Games on two occasions. In London in 2012, she finished just out of the medals, while in Rio in 2016, despite still being on crutches after a crash in training, she jumped on the bike for both qualifying and the first round to try to keep her nation in the hunt for the medals. Hoskins also raced on the road, winning the Tour of Chongming overall and two stages in 2012.
Hoskins, a mother of two and married to fellow cyclist Rohan Dennis in 2018, was allegedly hit by a vehicle in Adelaide, Australia on the evening of December 30 and she died from her injuries in the hospital the following morning. Dennis was reportedly charged with causing death by dangerous driving, driving without due care and endangering life.
Hoskins’ professional cycling journey was sparked when the rider drew the attention of the Western Australian Institute of Sport Talent Identification Program at the age of 15, while the Rio Olympics, where the team pursuit squad came fifth, marked the final race of her career. She delayed formally announcing her retirement until the following year, however, taking time to process a result that hadn’t lived up to her high hopes before making the decision public.
“Over the past few months, I’ve gained a new understanding about how to define my career,” she said at the time of her retirement announcement. “A career shouldn’t be defined by medals won or results collected. I choose to define my career by what I achieved as a person, where I’ve been, the people I met and the standard by which I’ve done my job. I’ve hit every target that I’ve wanted to hit in that regard on the bike and off, and as a person, I think I’m better for that.”
AusCycling expressed that the sport, too, was all the better for having had…