U.S. Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Dead at 23

Her father told VeloNews she died by suicide

By Elyse Dupre Mar 11, 2019 1:17 PMTags
Kelly CatlinEMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Olympic track cyclist Kelly Catlin has died at the age of 23.

The athlete was found dead in her campus residence at Stanford University late last week.

In a letter sent to VeloNews, Catlin's father, Mark Catlin, stated she died by suicide.

"There isn't a minute that goes by that we don't think of her and think of the wonderful life she could have lived," he wrote. "There isn't a second in which we wouldn't freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable."

The cycling community also mourned her death. 

"The U.S. cycling community suffered a devastating loss with the passing of Kelly Catlin, USA Cycling National Team member," Rob DeMartini, USA Cycling president and CEO, wrote in a statement. "Kelly was more than an athlete to us, and she will always be part of the USA Cycling family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Catlin family. This is an incredibly difficult time and we want to respect their privacy."

In addition, he stated that "the entire cycling community is mourning this immense loss" and that USA Cycling is "offering continuous support to Kelly's teammates, coaches and staff." He also claimed the organization encourages "all those who knew Kelly to support each other through the grieving."

"We are deeply saddened by Kelly's passing, and we will all miss her dearly,"  he concluded. "We hope everyone seeks the support they need through the hard days ahead, and please keep the Catlin family in your thoughts."

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Catlin was born and raised in Minnesota and earned her undergraduate degrees in biomedical engineering and Chinese at the University of Minnesota. She also pursued a master's degree in computational and mathematical engineering at Stanford.

In terms of her cycling career, Catlin helped the U.S. national team win three consecutive world titles between 2016 and 2018. In addition, she won the bronze at the World Track Championships in 2017 and 2018. She also competed for Rally UHC Cycling and helped the U.S. women's pursuit team win a silver medal at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Catlin's siblings, Colin Catlin and Christine Catlin, revealed she broke her arm and sustained a concussion in separate crashes last year.

"She couldn't train as well as she used to," Christine told the news outlet. "She had really bad headaches and was sensitive to light. Then she tried to commit suicide in January the same way. She had written this lengthy email [to her family] and said her thoughts were racing all the time. She was suicidal, her thinking was really dark, and she had had taken to nihilism. We called police the moment we got the email and they got there in time to save her that time."

According to the publication, the family then focused on her recovery and her brother said he was "optimistic about her future."

News of Catlin's death came two weeks after she penned an article about balancing her athletic and academic career for VeloNews.

"Being a graduate student, track cyclist, and professional road cyclist can instead feel like I need to time-travel to get everything done," she wrote. "And things still slip through the cracks. This is probably the point when you'll expect me to say something cliché like, ‘Time management is everything.' Or perhaps you're expecting a nice, encouraging slogan like, ‘Being a student only makes me a better athlete!' After all, I somehow make everything work, right? Sure. Yeah, that's somewhat accurate. But the truth is that most of the time, I don't make everything work. It's like juggling with knives, but I really am dropping a lot of them. It's just that most of them hit the floor and not me."

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