Niki Stajkovic, a member of the FINA High Diving Committee, has passed away, just shy of his 58th birthday.
In its condolence letter to his wife Nicole, FINA wrote: “We will remember him as a person who cared in the first place about the safety of the athletes and did all to present them with perfect and safe conditions, so that they could perform at their best in the sport that he loved”.
FINA says that it “presents its most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends, and to the entire diving and high diving community.”
Stajkovic was a 5-time Olympian for his native Austria from 1972-1992 (skipping the 1984 games), with his highest finish being 8th at the 1980 Olympics. That included a debut in Munich in 1972 at just 13 years old. He won 2 European Championship medals in his career off the 3 meter: silver in 1987 and bronze in 1981.
Administratively, besides his FINA duties, Stajkovic was sporting director for the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series.
The revered Stajkovic, once a wonder child in his native Austria, was a long-haired free spirit who even at almost 60 years old captured the free spirit of the high diving world, and was the perfect complement of culture and administrative discipline to bring the sport fully into the FINA family at the 2013 World Championships.
Stajkovic was found at the bottom of the pool at 4PM on Friday after undertaking a training session with his wife. She left the session early, and he was discovered by children shortly after. Police believe heart failure was the cause of death.
Stajkovic’s Olympic hopes were frequently disrupted by disease. He had blood poisoning in 1988, and in 1992 was treated for an angina with penicillin – and had an allergic reaction to the penicillin.