LATE mountain bike star Rab Wardell was "always laughing and just really happy" and his "goofy laugh" ensured that others did too.

Charline Jones, who won a women's team sprint cycling silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and competed in Glasgow four years later, said that he was "loved by so many people" in an emotional tribute to her close friend.

Rab, who, like Charline, is from Dunfermline originally but lived in Glasgow, died last week aged just 37 after suffering from a cardiac arrest.

His partner, two-time Olympic cycling champion Katie Archibald, revealed in a heartbreaking post on social media that she had tried to resuscitate her partner, who had won the elite men's title at the Scottish MTN XC (Cross-Country Mountain Bike Series) two days previously, after which he had also appeared on BBC Scotland's 'The Nine'.

Following Rab's death, tributes from across the cycling community and beyond poured in, and Charline, 34, told the Press that their paths crossed even before she took up cycling.

"He's from Garvock, I'm from just round the corner, Scotland Drive, so we're from the same kind of place," she said.

"He was best friends with my neighbour, so I saw him a lot when I was younger. He was always laughing and just really happy.

"When he came back into my life, when I got into cycling, he must have just decided to stop riding at as high a level, and he was coaching more. He was really young – he must have been 23, 24 – and he was taking track sessions at Meadowbank in Edinburgh.

"I just started when I was 18, 19, and when I saw that he was taking the track sessions ... it was just so funny how it all works out. He was there and it was a familiar face. He was so nice and so good at just reassuring you; that was one of his really good qualities."

Charline joked that "it was like I was following him about" when she also made the move to live in Glasgow, where she is based with her rugby-playing husband, Lee, after discovering that Rab lived "just around the corner" in the city's Shawlands.

She said that they would often "check in" with each other if Katie, one of Charline's best friends, or Lee, who made his fourth Commonwealth Games appearance for Scotland in the rugby sevens competition in Birmingham this year, were away competing in their respective sports.

"He was just such a friendly, happy, funny guy," Charline continued.

"He was always there if you were struggling. If I was maybe struggling with cycling, he would give me a message or a text; he would always be there. He was just there for everyone.

"He was a really good friend, never mind the cycling stuff that he'd end up smashing basically his whole life, but especially in the last two years, what he's done, and his climb up to professional bike-riding; he never made it to a professional level (until this year), as a paid cyclist. He was so dedicated.

"He was so great at telling stories. He was a great storyteller. The suspense was always just the right amount of time, the details were always great, and then, of course, his laugh was just the best laugh ever. It was just a goofy laugh; if he was laughing, you couldn't not laugh!

"He was loved by so many people. He would always give you a little wave and a smile, and no-one will have anything bad to say about him. He was just a real, happy, positive person.

"He was really quite humble, and just loved riding bikes. That's what I loved; speaking to him and the passion that he had about cycling and about bikes, all bikes as well, all disciplines. He was good at them all!

"He's going to be such a great loss, not just to Katie and his family and close friends, but the whole cycling community."

James McCallum, a close friend of Rab's who raced with him, and is on the Scottish Cycling board, said it was "hard to describe how awesome a person he was", and said: "I think everyone that knew him got so much energy from him and he was a standout beacon of hope and determination to anyone in our cycling community.

"He was always such a happy, outgoing and understanding individual – I felt like he was my little brother and I’m sure there are plenty of other people in the community who feel the exact same. It’s so surreal to think that, just now, I’m discussing him not being here any more.

"I’m so proud of what he achieved over the last 12 months and everything that he’s done – for me, that’s what I’m holding onto right now, and I don’t like talking about him in retrospect.

"I think if there’s one thing we can take away from the way Rab lived it was that he wanted to squeeze everything out of life and make sure every day was a day that you could remember. In doing that, he’s taken every opportunity to enjoy his life and have great people round about him, and just be such a nice, gracious friend and loving character.

"He’ll be missed worldwide – he was renowned in the mountain biking and bike world and was a Commonwealth Games athlete. This year was his big comeback to racing, which was going so, so well and he was on track to go to the World Championships to represent Great Britain in the next month. He was also very diverse – if he wasn’t riding a mountain bike he was on a BMX, and if he wasn’t on a BMX he was on his road bike – he always had a bike between his legs and was always having fun.

"Legacy is a word that is used too often, but I think legacy and legend are two words that people will nod their heads at when they think of Rab."

In a touching Instagram post showing pictures of her together with Rab, Katie thanked those who had offered their condolences, saying that although "it's quite painful to say more", they had made her "feel less alone at a time when I'm struggling to breathe if I think about Rab not coming back".

Rab, whose first cycling club was Sandy Wallace Cycles, who were based in Inverkeithing, competed at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and ran his own cycle coaching business.

In 2020, he broke the record for cycling the iconic West Highland Way, and a documentary film that was produced during his attempt will be shown as part of a film festival.

The Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival features films from around the world and will showcase Rab's West Highland Way attempt during its tour of the UK and Ireland, which includes dates in Glasgow, Stirling, Aberdeen and Edinburgh next month.