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Mourners were brought to tears at Wangaratta after an Australian Olympic hero delivered his own eulogy to his wife and children on Tuesday.

Dean Woods, 55,  the prodigiously talented track cyclist best known as a member of the ‘Charlie’s Angels’ team pursuit squad, died earlier this month after a battle with lung cancer. 

Woods, wearing the same suit he was buried in, appeared in a pre-recorded video – shot weeks before his death – on a big projector screen behind his casket at the Wangaratta Performing Arts and Convention Centre.

His wife and three children had not seen the video before, in what were emotional scenes for the family. 

‘I’m well prepared, even though I’m in the box in front of you,’ he said.

‘This will be the suit I’ll be put in the box in. (I’ve) even got the torch … in there just in case it gets dark.’

‘We’re devastated,’ Mrs Woods said via The Herald Sun.

‘We’re going home tomorrow and I think that’s when the reality will hit. Especially for myself and the girls, because we have had such a wonderful distraction.

Olympic hero Dean Woods delivered his own eulogy in emotional scenes in Wangaratta

WOODS’ EMOTIONAL EULOGY 

Hello ladies and gentlemen … it’s a bit of a sad occasion.

I’ve had a pretty extraordinary life, it’s pretty hard for anyone to document that in a simple form, so the best person to do it is me.

First of all, today is a sad day, but for me this is just my process with the whole cancer deal.

It’s not a tragedy, and I saw that for the reason I’ve spent so much time riding my bike throughout the world, had a lot of near misses, but never had any serious accidents.

Now for me, to say to Meagan and the kids that I’m going out for a two hour ride, and not coming back – now that’s a tragedy, because everything was fine.

I’ve been fortunate enough, and I do say fortunate enough, to be able to have the time to put a few things in place, to get a few things sorted.

Even though, two years ago when I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer … So the main issue was in the lungs.

Which, when you consider someone who’s spent 40 years with their lungs in their profession keeping you fit and healthy, it’s just one of those things.

But I’ve never once and never will say: ‘Why me? Why me?’

It’s not who I am, and it’s not the way to deal with it.

It’s like if I won 50 billion in the Lotto, would I be saying: ‘Why me? Why me?’

Absolutely not. So you take the goods with the bads. And that’s what I’ve been able to do.

I owe a massive amount of what I know to high performance sport.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to put myself through many arduous situations.

And you still have that commitment to keep going.

There’s never that moment you want to stop, even though it does creep in, but you know there’s an end goal.

And the end goal is to keep going and push through.

So even from a young age I’ve been very fortunate to have those experiences which have served me really well in my two terms of cancer.

 

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‘I think once we get back home and into the swing of things, the silence will be deafening.’

The service began with footage of Woods and his teammates clinching gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and ended with a tribute from Meagan, his wife of 28 years. 

 Woods had just turned 18 when he was the youngest member of the team pursuit squad that upset the favoured United States quartet to win the gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. 

Woods, Mike Turtur, Michael Grenda and Kevin Nichols won Australia’s first Olympic gold medal since 1956.

Their upset win over the Americans brought the regime of national coach Charlie Walsh to widespread attention and led to the squad’s nickname.

Woods was best known for being part of the famous 'Charlie's Angles' team that won gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles

Woods was best known for being part of the famous 'Charlie's Angles' team that won gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles

Woods was best known for being part of the famous ‘Charlie’s Angles’ team that won gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles

The former cyclist found humour in the fact that, as a incredibly fit and healthy athlete, who succumbed to lung cancer

The former cyclist found humour in the fact that, as a incredibly fit and healthy athlete, who succumbed to lung cancer

The former cyclist found humour in the fact that, as a incredibly fit and healthy athlete, who succumbed to lung cancer

Woods had just turned 18 when he was the youngest member of the team pursuit squad that upset the favoured United States quartet to win the gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics

Woods had just turned 18 when he was the youngest member of the team pursuit squad that upset the favoured United States quartet to win the gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics

Woods had just turned 18 when he was the youngest member of the team pursuit squad that upset the favoured United States quartet to win the gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics

It proved a pivotal success, marking the start of a sustained era of international success for the Australian track program.

Walsh said in a Sport Australia Hall Of Fame statement that he was thankful to have had Woods as a friend.

‘There are people in life we admire, and Dean Woods was one of those,’ Walsh said of his fellow Hall of Fame member.

‘(He) was an exceptional cyclist and an even better person.

‘Whatever others were capable of doing, he had to do it, and if possible, better.

‘He always sought to treat others with respect and dignity.’

Woods was an all-time great of Australian cycling, winning another three Olympic medals after the LA gold.

He won a silver and bronze at the 1988 Seoul Games and returned in 1996 to claim bronze in the team pursuit at the Atlanta Olympics.

Woods was a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist who also set a world record and four national records, won three world championships and 20 national titles.

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said across three Games, Woods’ feats on the track were ‘extraordinary’.

‘Cycling and the Olympic movement in Australia have lost a champion,’ Coates said.

More recently Woods, who had been battling cancer, was a fierce critic of AusCycling and the Australian Olympic sports system in general.

After the Australian track team’s disappointing medal haul of one bronze at the Tokyo Games, Woods called for a ‘total reset’ of the cycling high-performance system in this country. 

Source: DailyMail AU

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