Kelly Catlin, a member of the U.S. women’s pursuit team that earned silver a the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, has died at age 23.
Catlin’s father, Mark Catlin, broke the news in a letter sent to VeloNews Sunday morning. Mark Catlin said that Kelly had died Friday night at her residence in California. Mark Catlin said that Kelly 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,” Mark Catlin wrote. “There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”
Catlin earned three consecutive world championship titles with the U.S. women’s pursuit team from 2016-2018. She also raced with the Rally UHC Pro Cycling Team on the road. In addition to her cycling career, Catlin was pursuing a graduate degree in Computational Mathematics at Stanford University. Catlin recently wrote a journal on velonews.com describing the ways in which she split her time between the three pursuits.
“Being a graduate student, track cyclist, and professional road cyclist can instead feel like I need to time-travel to get everything done. 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.”
Catlin hailed from St. Paul, Minnesota, and attended high school in Arden Hills, just north of Minneapolis. A 2016 profile in the Star Ledger described her as a multi-talented teenager who was the youngest of a set of triplets.
“She is an accomplished violinist who spent spare time while training in Colorado Springs memorizing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, all 35 pages of it.
She rides a unicycle, can sculpt and draw horses with great detail, favors Creedence Clearwater Revival, may become a pathologist like her father and considers a square of dark chocolate decadent.”
According to the story, Catlin picked up cycling at age 17 after suffering injuries from running. She showed immediate talent.
Catlin joined Rally Pro Cycling in 2017. In a statement provided to VeloNews, the team described Catlin as “a friend and teammate.”
“The news of Kelly Catlin’s passing has hit the team hard. Losing an incredible person at such a young age is very difficult,” read the statement. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to her family and those who were fortunate enough to know her best.”
A statement provided by USA Cycling called Catlin, “a part of the USA Cycling family.”
“The U.S. cycling community suffered a devastating loss with the passing of Kelly Catlin, our USA Cycling National Team member,” the statement says. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Catlin family. Kelly was more than an athlete to us, she was and will always be part of the USA Cycling family.This is an incredibly difficult time for the Catlin family and we want to respect their privacy while they support each other.”
This story is still developing, so please stay tuned for additional information. Our thoughts go out to Kelly Catlin’s family and friends. If you or someone you know is struggling, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a variety of resources.
Image: Kelly Catlin (shown second from left) with the rest of Team USA celebrating the silver medal in the women’s cycling track team pursuit event at Rio Olympic Velodrome during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games.