How Did Kelly Catlin Die? New Details About The Tragic Death Of U.S. Olympic Cyclist At 23

She was just 23.

How Did Kelly Catlin Die? New Details About The Tragic Death Of U.S. Olympic Cyclist At 23 Getty

Kelly Catlin was an Olympic track cyclist and three time world champion. She was a member of the 2016 women's pursuit team at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She was found dead in her on campus residence at Stanford University on March 8th. Catlin was a graduate student at Stanford studying computational and mathmatical engineering while training in track cycling as a member of the U.S. national team and racing as a professional road cyclist. She was also an artist and violinist. She was 23. How did Kelly Catlin die?


1. It was suicide

Kelly's father Mark Catlin told Velo News in a letter that Kelly's death was a suicide. It was her second attempt since the beginning of 2019. “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. There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable,” her father wrote. 



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2. She was a triplet

Kelly was a triplet with her sister Christine and brother Colin. Her sister wrote in an email that Kelly 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." Her brother Colin said in a phone interview with The Washington Post that he helped push Kelly into cycling and that “she didn’t really want to, but she started winning things and she likes winning things. I always saw myself as the planner and she was the doer. I could always see the three of us taking over the world. We were a massive ball of energy and we supported each other in everything.”



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3. She was a world champion

Kelly Catlin was a member of the U.S. women's pursuit team and took home gold at the 2016, 2017 and 2018 world championships.



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4. She had crashed

Kelly Catlin crashed twice recently. In October she broke her arm. In December she sustained a concussion. These incidents appeared to take away the control and ability to multitask that Catlin had relied on. She first attempted suicide in January. Her family said that Kelly was not the person they once knew after that. Her father said,  “She was not the Kelly that we knew. She spoke like a robot. We could get her to talk, but we wondered, ‘what has happened to our Kelly? . . . Everything was open to her, but somehow her thinking was changed and she couldn’t see beyond, I guess, her depression. After her concussion, she started embracing nihilism. Life was meaningless. There was no purpose. This was a person with depression. For her, she could no longer concentrate on her studies or train as hard. She couldn’t fulfill what she felt were her obligations to herself, she couldn’t live up to her own standards. She couldn’t realize that what she needed to do was get away and rest, heal. We were all searching for the magic words, that life was worth living.”



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5.  Depression

Mark Catlin said his daughter experienced "a perfect storm" of depression, concussion symptoms, overtraining, “not being able to say no” and a rapid heart rate that kept her from being able to train, which he called “the final straw.”


Please, if you are thinking that the world is a better place without you in it, seek help. 1-800-273-8255 is the national suicide crisis hotline. People are there to listen. The world needs you.



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6. Her blog post

In a recent blog post for Velo News, Kelly wrote that she sometimes felt as if she needed “to time-travel to get everything done .... 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.”



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7. USA Cycling's statement

USA Cycling’s President and CEO Rob DeMartini released a statement saying, “The U.S. cycling community suffered a devastating loss with the passing of Kelly Catlin. Kelly was more than an athlete to us, and she will always be part of the USA Cycling family."


Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long distance runner. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.