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Olympic Medalist, World Champion Cyclist Kelly Catlin Dies At 23

By Todd Kortemeier | March 10, 2019, 4:59 p.m. (ET)

Kelly Catlin stands on the podium at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in 2017 in Hong Kong.


Three-time world champion and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Kelly Catlin passed away Friday night at her home in California. She was 23.

Catlin’s father, Mark, confirmed in a letter to cycling magazine VeloNews that she took her own life. 

“The entire Olympic and Paralympic community is saddened by Kelly’s passing,” said USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “Kelly was obviously an incredible athlete, but those that knew her well will tell you she was an even better person. Her loss is a stark reminder that we must continue to make the physical and mental health and wellness of athletes our top priority.”

The shocking news comes less than one week after the conclusion of the UCI Track World Championships, where Catlin did not compete in the team pursuit event in which she had won three gold medals in a row. She was also member of the team that took the silver medal at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

“We are deeply saddened by Kelly's passing, and we will all miss her dearly,” said USA Cycling President and CEO Rob DeMartini in a statement. “We hope everyone seeks the support they need through the hard days ahead, and please keep the Catlin family in your thoughts.”

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The St. Paul, Minnesota, native was a natural talent on the bike, only picking up the sport when she was 17 and rapidly ascending to be one of the top competitors. But she was equally talented off the bike, pursuing music, art and a graduate degree in computational mathematics from Stanford. 

Catlin recently wrote a journal entry for VeloNews, in which she talked about the challenges of balancing so many things alongside a championship cycling career.

“Being a graduate student, track cyclist, and professional road cyclist can instead feel like I need to time-travel to get everything done,” she wrote. “… 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.”

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.


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Kelly Catlin