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Olympic snowboarder ended life due to mental illness and competition pressure, says dad

Ellie Soutter, 18, was found dead near the Alps after going missing. Her father claims the expectations and mental illness may have taken a toll on her.

By: Sports Desk |
August 2, 2018 9:46:10 am
Britain's snowboarder Ellie Soutter Ellie Soutter won a bronze medal at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival in Turkey. (Source: Team GB Twitter)

British Olympic snowboarder Ellie Soutter, 18, was found dead, end of July, in the woods a week after she disappeared from a ski resort in Les Gets, France, according to media outlet PEOPLE. Soutter had won a bronze medal for Great Britain at the 2017 Youth Olympic Winter Festival and was added to Britain’s squad for the snowboard cross Europa Cup circuit with many speculating she would represent Team GB at the 2022 Winter Olympics. In the latest interview, and first since the sad event, her father has said she may have been struggling with the level of competition in high-level sports and years of mental illness.

“She wanted to be the best,” her father, Tony, is quoted as saying by the BBC. “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. 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.”

Tony, in the aftermath, has called for action to help other young athletes deal with mounting pressure of expectations. “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.”

Following the demise, her family have set up a foundation in her name to help young winter sports athletes who are seeking financial support.

Soutter won Great Britain’s only medal at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival, where she won took home a bronze medal in the women’s snowboard cross. Soutter grew up in Surrey, United Kingdom before moving to the Alps where she trained.

“This is a desperately sad situation and our thoughts are with all of Ellie’s family and friends. We are working with all of our Olympic and Paralympic programmes and the mental health charity Mind to make sure appropriate support is in place,” said a spokesman for UK Sport said.

Britain's snowboarder Ellie Soutter Britain’s snowboarder Ellie Soutter

A statement issued by British Ski and Snowboard stated: “Ellie was an incredibly popular and well-liked member of the team and the country has lost a great talent. The wellbeing of all athletes across every discipline is the primary concern of any sporting organisation. We commend the family for setting up the Ellie Soutter Foundation and they have our full support.”

Day after she was found dead, Tony had written on Facebook: “This cruel world took my soul mate and ‘Bessie’ from me yesterday on her 18th birthday. Ellie I will miss you more than you could have ever imagined. Rest in peace you little champion.”

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