Aussie javelin champ Jarrod Bannister dies

Australian javelin thrower Jarrod Bannister has passed away suddenly in the Netherlands.
Australian javelin thrower Jarrod Bannister has passed away suddenly in the Netherlands.

The sudden death of javelin champion Jarrod Bannister has shocked Australia's athletics fraternity.

Bannister, 33, died overnight in The Netherlands, where he had been training and living.

There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

Australia's world champion hurdler Sally Pearson led tributes to Bannister, posting on Twitter: "A talented athlete with so much more to give. You will be missed."

Olympic sprinter Melissa Breen posted on Twitter: "You were the best javelin thrower Australia has ever produced, but may this be a reminder that we are all more than results on a page. @LifelineAust 131114"

Athletics Australia chief executive Darren Gocher said the sport's peak organisation was shocked to learn of Bannister's death.

"On behalf of Athletics Australia, I extend our deepest condolences to Jarrod's family and friends and urge the athletics fraternity to support each other at this difficult time," Gocher said in a statement on Friday.

Bannister won javelin gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and finished sixth in the final at the 2008 Olympic Games.

His personal best of 89.02 metres, set in Brisbane in 2008, remains the current Australian record.

The Townsville-born Bannister was described as a typical Australian larrikin by hurdler Lauren Wells.

Ex-Olympian and renowned athletics commentator David Culbert described Bannister on Twitter as "a super athlete who sadly had many demons".

Commonwealth Games Australia and the Australian Sports Commission were others to express sadness at the death of Bannister, whose last major competition came at the 2011 world championships in South Korea where he finished seventh in the javelin final.

Two years later, Bannister was banned for 20 months for failing three whereabouts drug tests.

Bannister maintained drug testers arrived at the hotel where he was staying, but were told he had checked out the previous day.

Bannister was actually in the hotel in a room shared with another Australian athlete - the accommodation had been paid for by Athletics Australia.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

Multicultural Mental Health Australia www.mmha.org.au.

Local Aboriginal Medical Service details available from www.bettertoknow.org.au/AMS

Australian Associated Press