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May 26, 2019

Family of deceased champion cyclist Kelly Catlin donates her brain to concussion research

March 13, 2019
Kelly Catlin competes in the women’s individual pursuit bronze medal race during the UCI Track Cycling World Championships on March 3, 2018. (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP/Getty Images)

Researchers will study the brain of Kelly Catlin, the world champion cyclist who helped the U.S. team win an Olympic silver medal, to seek answers to the 23-year-old’s death last week by suicide.

The family donated her brain to Veterans Affairs-Boston University-Concussion Legacy Foundation Brain Bank, The Washington Post reported.


“Our family decided to have a neuropathologic examination performed on Kelly’s brain to investigate any possible damage caused by her recent head injury and seek explanations for recent neurologic symptoms,” her father, Mark, told the Post.

Catlin had broken her arm in October and suffered a concussion in December in two biking accidents, and soon after had become “unrecognizable,” her father said.

“She was not the Kelly that we knew,” the retired pathologist told the newspaper. “She spoke like a robot. We could get her to talk, but we wondered, ‘What has happened to our Kelly?’ ”

He detailed how after her concussion she became depressed, extremely sensitive to light, plagued with severe headaches and an inability to concentrate.

She first tried to commit suicide in January, and the unsuccessful attempt – by breathing in toxic gas – had left her with heart and lung damage, reported VeloNews in a lengthy profile of her ascent and heartbreaking plunge.

While she had been a high achiever and perfectionist since childhood, Catlin had gone into precipitous decline after her concussion. Her family had been extremely concerned, and tried frantically to reach her when she stopped communicating.

The star athlete, grad student in computational mathematics, and accomplished classical violinist was found dead in her dorm room at Stanford University on Friday evening. Her siblings Colin and Christine – the three were triplets – and parents are still reeling.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” said sister Christine to VeloNews. “I think everyone is in shock.”

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