Stanford graduate student and three-time world cycling champion Kelly Catlin, who won a 2016 Olympic silver medal as part of the U.S. Team Pursuit squad, was found dead in her campus residence on Thursday. In a letter sent to the cycling magazine VeloNews on Sunday, Catlin’s father wrote that her death was a suicide.
“The entire cycling community is mourning this immense loss,” wrote USA Cycling president and CEO Rob DeMartini in a statement. “We are offering continuous support to Kelly’s teammates, coaches and staff. We also encourage all those who knew Kelly to support each other through the grieving.”
Catlin was pursuing a master’s in Computational and Mathematical Engineering at Stanford, after graduating with bachelor’s degrees in biomedical engineering and Chinese from the University of Minnesota in 2018. Her death at age 23 comes less than two weeks after VeloNews published a journal she wrote on continuing her cycling career while pursuing a Stanford education.
“The greatest strength you will ever develop is the ability to recognize your own weaknesses, and to learn to ask for help when you need it,” Catlin wrote in the journal. “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.”
In addition to her silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games, Catlin won gold with the U.S. Team Pursuit squad in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 world championships. She also earned a bronze medal in the Individual Pursuit at the 2018 world championships. Her first international track cycling gold medal came at the 2015 Pan American Games.
Catlin withdrew from this year’s cycling world championships in February, opting out of the trip to Poland despite being on USA Cycling’s initial roster. She attended the Rally Cycling road team’s January training camp in Oxnard, California but had not competed with the team this season. She joined and first competed on the team in 2017.
She ended her VeloNews journal by imploring readers to “ask for a rest day, or, if you’re fortunate to be your own taskmaster (er, coach), give yourself a rest day.”
A moment of silence was held at a Town Hall hosted by University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell on Friday after it was announced that a graduate student later revealed to be Catlin had died.
“I know this hits each of us in different ways,” Drell said. “Please take care of yourselves and those who are close to you.”
If you have thoughts of suicide or are concerned about the well-being of another, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or Stanford’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at (650) 498-2336.
Contact Holden Foreman at hs4man21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.