London: 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. ‘[She] was a really special person – kind, funny, empathetic, and talented at literally everything she did,’ Christine said. She just felt like she couldn’t say no to everything that was asked of her and this was her only escape.’
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.
Less than two weeks before her death, Catlin posted an op-ed on a website 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 individual event in Berlin World Cup last May and how things were ‘finally looking up’ in the ‘run-in to the 2020 Olympics’.
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 recognise 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 Catlin had withdrawn from Team USA for the 2019 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Poland, which took place just last week.