The death of US track star Kelly Catlin has been described as a “huge tragedy” that has hit the British Cycling community.
Catlin, an Olympic silver medallist, took her own life earlier this month at the age of 23.
Her death has been felt throughout the world of cycling, including among riders with the British track team.
Neah Evans, a European and national champion on the track, said the impact has been felt here.
The 28-year-old told Cycling Weekly: “Because she was a cyclist, and a very good cyclist at that, it’s hit our bubble much more than it would.
“Suicide is such a common thing and when its someone you can relate to, it suddenly becomes much more of a problem you’re aware of.
“It’s a huge tragedy.”
Catlin, a post-graduate student who was fluent in Chinese and was an accomplished violinist, had previously tried to take her own life in January.
Born in Minnesota, she started her racing career as a junior with the NorthStar Development Team, going on to represent Team USA at the 2013 UCI Road World Championships in the junior road race and time trial.
She was invited to join the national team as a track rider, going on to win three World Championships as part of the women’s team pursuit squad in 2016, ’17 and ’18.
Catlin was a biomedical engineering and Chinese graduate and was studying for a master’s degree in computational and mathematical engineering.
Evans added: “You can’t point at one big factor, but it is a snowball effect. How can governing bodies, not just British Cycling, try and negate that snowball effect so this doesn’t happen again?
“Not just cycling but in any elite level sport, there’s so much pressure put on [athletes], mostly by themselves, but it’s a personality you have that drives you to be the best, that puts you under that pressure.
“You constantly aspire to improve and be better, that’s what makes you a standout athlete.”
Catlin’s dad Mark has suggested a concussion suffered in December may have contributed to her state of mind before her death.
She had written an article for VeloNews in February about the stresses of combining her grad school studies and racing.
USA Cycling has since set up the Kelly Catlin Fund, in memory of the three-time world champion.
Evans said: “Blaming the institute is a little bit unfair. You think of the number of athletes that have issues and go to the sport, get the support and okay because of it.
“There is a support network there. Unfortunately in Kelly’s case it wasn’t successful. It’s not to say that’s its completely failed everyone. You don’t here about the success cases. You only hear about the tragedies.
“I know that British Cycling has a lot going on that needs to be applauded.”
In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.
Evans will be racing the Six Day Manchester at the National Cycling centre between March 22-24, with tickets on sale now.
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