Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Is Dead at 23

Illustration for article titled Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Is Dead at 23
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Kelly Catlin, an Olympic track cyclist who competed in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, was found dead in her California home on Friday. Her father told reporters she died by suicide. She was 23 years old.


Reuters announced Catlin’s death on Sunday. In addition to taking home the silver medal with the rest of the U.S. women’s pursuit team in Rio, Catlin helped that team win gold medals in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 world championships.

Catlin, a triplet who grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was pursuing a graduate degree in mathematics at Stanford University; she reportedly died in her on-campus residence. “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,” her father, Mark Catlin, told VeloNews. “There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”

Catlin had reportedly struggled with mental health in the past.Her sister, Christine Catlin, told The Washington Post that Catlin was “a really special person - kind, funny, empathetic, and talented at literally everything she did. She just felt like she couldn’t say no to everything that was asked of her and this was her only escape.”

USA Cycling President and Chief Executive Rob DeMartini issued a statement calling it a “devastating loss” for the U.S. cycling community. “[T]he entire cycling community is mourning this immense loss,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “We are offering continuous support to Kelly’s teammates, coaches and staff. We also encourage all those who knew Kelly to support each other through the grieving.”




Such a loss, and so sad. From this SF Gate story, it seems like she was so good at so many things:

A graduate student at Stanford, Catlin was pursuing a degree in computational and mathematical engineering while training for track cycling as a member of the national team and racing as a professional road cyclist. She also excelled at the violin and as an artist.

Catlin, an Arden Hills, Minnesota, native who had earned undergraduate degrees in biomedical engineering and Chinese from the University of Minnesota, helped the U.S. team win three consecutive world titles in pursuit between 2016 and 2018. She won bronze in the individual pursuit at the track cycling world championships in 2017 and 2018.

Then there’s this quote from a recent interview that now seems kind of ominous in terms of communicating how she was feeling about juggling so many activities at such high levels:

“This is probably the point when you’ll expect me to say something cliche 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.”