A police world cycling champ has died following a velodrome crash.
Richard Phillips-Schofield, who clinched two gold medals at last year’s World Police and Fire Games, died on Tuesday – two days after falling from his bike at Portsmouth’s Mountbatten Centre outdoor velodrome.
The Shirley athlete was taking part in a British Cycling event when tragedy struck. He was rushed to Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Portsmouth, with severe chest and head injuries.
The 33-year-old, who moved to Portsmouth a decade ago, was a response officer with the Hampshire force and cycled for the Peter Hansford Racing Team.
During the police and fire games, held in Belfast last August, he became one of the world’s fastest bobbies on a bike by winning two golds and a silver.
Members of the cycling fraternity have been quick to pay tribute to Richard.
British Cycling president Bob Howden said: “My thoughts and those of everyone at British Cycling are with Richard’s family and friends and with his team.
“This is a tragedy which will sadden the whole cycle sport community in this country.”
Born and bred in the borough, Richard’s passion for cycling began when he was a pupil at Light Hall School where he was encouraged to take up the sport by his PE teacher.
He competed in the junior world championships in 1999.
He went onto serve as a police officer for the constabulary in Hampshire.
Chief Constable Andy Marsh competed at the games with Richard in Belfast last year. He said: “I was proud to serve with Richard, and had the privilege of being one of the first of his colleagues to congratulate him on his gold medal when we competed together in Belfast last year.
“His service in the police was no less impressive, a first class officer, team player and friend to so many.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this tragic time.”
Paying tribute, Superintendent James Fulton, area commander for Southampton, added: “Richard was an exceptional officer.
“The whole force shares the pain of his family and friends, and at this time we remember Rich as a man who inspired so many and delivered so much.”
Richard was unmarried and is survived by his parents who still live in Shirley.