Cycling world champion Kelly Catlin commits suicide aged 23, as her triplet sister reveals she ‘had not been the same’ since suffering a concussion three months ago – and tried to take her life in January
- Catlin helped the US women’s pursuit team win silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics
- She was also part of US pursuit squads that won world titles in 2016, 2016, 2018
- Catlin was found dead by her roommate at their Stanford apartment on Thursday
- Had been pursuing graduate degree in engineering at the prestigious university
- Recently wrote about how juggling studies with cycling was ‘balancing knives’
- Catlin wrote that she had only ‘just begun’ to learn the ability to recognize her ‘own weaknesses’ and to ‘ask for help when you need it’
Olympic cyclist Kelly Catlin, who helped the US women’s pursuit team win the silver medal at the 2016 Rio games, has died at the age of 23.
Catlin’s family confirmed that she took her own life.
The track cyclist, who was part of the US team pursuit squads that captured world championship titles in 2016, 2017, and 2018, had recently suffered a concussion.
Her sister Christine said that Catlin ‘had not been the same mentally ever since’ and had attempted suicide in January.
US cyclist Kelly Catlin, shown at the 2018 World Championships, has died at age 23. Her family confirmed she took her own life
‘[She] was a really special person – kind, funny, empathetic, and talented at literally everything she did,’ Christine told The Washington Post.
‘She just felt like she couldn’t say no to everything that was asked of her and this was her only escape.’
‘She had suffered a concussion a few months ago and had not been the same mentally ever since.’
Catlin’s father said his daughter committed suicide on Thursday night.
Catlin (pictured second from left) helped the US women’s pursuit team win the silver medal at the 2016 Rio games
‘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,’ Mark 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’s roommate found her dead at their on-campus residence at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. There were no signs of foul play.
The star athlete had been working on a graduate degree in Computational and Mathematical Engineering at Stanford. She had graduated from the University of Minnesota last year with undergraduate degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Chinese.
Catlin was the youngest in a set of triplets that included Christine and brother Colin, who posted about her death on his Facebook page.
Catlin’s brother Colin confirmed in a Facebook post that the cyclist had taken her own life
Catlin was the youngest in a fraternal set of triplets that included her brother Colin (pictured here together)
‘My sister Kelly committed suicide last night,’ he wrote. ‘She’s the one person I had shared almost my entire life with, and I shall miss her terribly.’
Christine revealed that Catlin had tried to commit suicide in January following a number of bad crashes in which she broke her arm and was left with a concussion.
‘She couldn’t train as well as she used to,’ Christine told SFGate.com. ‘She had really bad headaches and was sensitive to light. Then she tried to commit suicide.’
‘She had written this lengthy email and said her thoughts were racing all the time. She was suicidal, her thinking was really dark and she had taken to nihilism.’
‘We called police the moment we got the email, and they got there in time to save her that time.’
Catlin said the family focused on her recovery and they believed she was improving.
Catlin’s triplet sister Christine posted this photo of the girls shortly after Catlin’s death
Catlin, Colin, and Christine are all pictured in this family photo Christine shared to Facebook this week
‘Just a week or two ago, we were making plans and I was optimistic about her future,’ Colin said. ‘She did have plans for the future, it turned out. Her plans.’
‘The thing that haunts me is that she called me about a week and a half before and we talked for like 2.5 hours and she opened up to me about her whole life,’ Caitlin added.
Just before she went to the Rio games, Catlin revealed in a 2016 profile that she initially found track cycling to be ‘terrifying’.
‘It’s fast and scary,’ she told the Pioneer Press. ‘It’s a lot more about suffering, I guess, because the physical strength of it is a very large component.’
‘It’s about going as fast and as hard as you can without falling over, basically.’
USA Cycling president Rob DeMartini announced news of Catlin’s death on Sunday.
‘The US cycling community suffered a devastating loss with the passing of Kelly Catlin,’ he said in a statement. ‘Kelly was more than an athlete to us and she will always be part of the USA Cycling family.’
Catlin’s roommate found her dead in their on-campus residence at Stanford University. There were no signs of foul play. She is pictured here at the 2018 World Championships
Catlin was part of the US team pursuit squads that captured world titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018. She is pictured here after winning the Women’s Team Pursuit Finals at the UCI World Cycling Championship in 2017
‘The entire cycling community is mourning this immense loss. We are deeply saddened by Kelly’s passing, and we will all miss her dearly.’
Catlin, who also took bronze in individual pursuit at the 2017 and 2018 world championships, was also mourned by her professional team Rally UHC Cycling.
‘The news of Kelly’s passing has hit the team hard,’ Rally UHC Cycling wrote in a Twitter posting. ‘Losing an incredible person at such a young age is very difficult.
‘Kelly was our friend and teammate. Our heartfelt condolences go out to her family and those who were fortunate enough to know her best.’
Less than two weeks before her death, Catlin posted an op-ed on VeloNews about her struggles with juggling life as a graduate student, competitive track cyclist, and professional road cyclist.
She wrote of the moment she had just finished second at the Berlin World Cup in May and how things were ‘finally looking up’ in the ‘run-in to the 2020 Olympics’.
The star athlete had been working on a graduate degree in Computational and Mathematical Engineering at Stanford at the time of her death. She is pictured here at the Rio Olympics
Less than two weeks before her death, Catlin posted an op-ed about her struggles with juggling life as a graduate student, competitive track cyclist, and professional road cyclist
Doug Schmidt said that the article written by his ‘gifted’ cousin was ‘painful’ to read. ‘It seems everything piled up and she felt there was no way out,’ he wrote on Facebook
But when Catlin stepped off the podium, the US National Team coach told her she would need to retake a three-hour final exam for one of her classes at Stanford.
‘This is probably the point when you’ll expect me to say something cliche like, “Time management is everything,”‘ Catlin wrote.
‘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.’
Catlin wrote that she had only ‘just begun’ to learn the ability to recognize her ‘own weaknesses’ and to ‘ask for help when you need it’.
‘I still fail,’ she wrote. ‘As athletes, we are all socially programmed to be stoic with our pain, to bear our burdens and not complain, even when such stoicism reaches the point of stupidity and those burdens begin to damage us.’
‘These are hard habits to break.’
Catlin had withdrawn from Team USA for the 2019 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Poland, which took place just last week.
Catlin (pictured second from front) is seen competing during the Team Pursuit track cycling event during the 2016 Olympic games in Rio
Catlin was also a talented violinist, and revealed in a 2016 profile that she had memorized all 35 pages of Tchaikovsk’s Violin Concerto in D Major in her spare time
THE TALENTED BRITISH SNOWBOARDER WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE AFTER CONCUSSIONS
Catlin’s suicide has reminded many of the death of Ellie Soutter, a talented British snowboarder who took her life at the age of 18 in August.
Soutter’s father Tony suggested that head injuries his daughter suffered from snowboarding may have led to her suicide.
The rising snowboarding star killed herself on her 18th birthday in a remote woodland in Les Gets, France as she struggled to deal with stress.
Catlin’s suicide has reminded many of the death of Ellie Soutter, a talented British snowboarder who took her life at the age of 18 in August
Tony said Soutter’s mind may have been affected by several head injuries and concussions she’d suffered – including one that had left her unable to recognize him for seven hours.
She had been airlifted off the mountain about five times, each time with a head injury,’ he told the Sunday Times.
‘She didn’t recognise me for seven hours after the incident. She had nasty headaches and trouble sleeping.’
Tony also revealed how the University of Boston contacted him after Ellie’s death and asked for a biopsy of her brain.
This led to him to begin researching Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, which is more commonly known as CTE.
The condition is a type of dementia associated with repeated blows to the head and recurrent episodes of concussion. It can lead to severe depression.
‘Had I known about CTE I would have stopped her racing completely,’ Tony said.
Soutter took her own life shortly after being selected to represent Team GB at the Junior Snowboard World Championships in New Zealand.
She had been tipped to represent her country at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Doug Schmidt said that the article written by his ‘gifted’ cousin was ‘painful’ to read.
‘It seems everything piled up and she felt there was no way out,’ he wrote on Facebook. ‘This gifted athlete’s struggle will fade because she was not a football or baseball player in the US and we do not really pay attention to cycling.’
‘Too often the athletes in lesser known sports have to juggle multiple careers if they want to pursue their passion, often to the detriment of their own body and minds.’
‘RIP Kelly, may your final climb up the mountain be a good one.’
Catlin grew up in St Paul, Minnesota. She only picked up cycling at age 17 but quickly rose to prominence in the sport.
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She was also a talented violinist, and revealed in a 2016 profile that she had memorized all 35 pages of Tchaikovsk’s Violin Concerto in D Major in her spare time.
‘Everything she did, she was the best at when we were little kids,’ Christine said. ‘Sports, violin, and she casually picked up cycling. We were the Catlins, so we were this force.’
‘I could always see the three of us taking over the world,’ Colin added. ‘We were a massive ball of energy, and we supported each other in everything.’
For confidential support call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
Catlin wrote that she had only ‘just begun’ to learn the ability to recognize her ‘own weaknesses’ and to ‘ask for help when you need it’
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