Gabriele Grunewald and other sports stars who died too young

The American runner passed away on June 11

Stars Insider

12/06/19 | StarsInsider

LIFESTYLE Celebrity deaths

The life of an athlete can be fast and furious. They typically start young and quickly prove themselves at a national, and even international, level. While sometimes this leads to fame and an impressive career, unfortunately not all athletes make it that far.

Gabriele Grunewald was an elite American distance runner, and the 12th fastest American woman to run the 1500m in history. She just barely missed out on going to the London Olympics in 2012, finishing fourth, and was included in the final trial to determine the runners that would be sent to Rio in 2016. While she boasted an impressive resumé, she was battling cancer through it all.

Grunewald was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009, while completing her last year in university. After she went through radiation and surgery, she hit the track again and started training professionally. However, her next bout wasn't far behind, as she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2010. Another round of surgery later, and she was back at it. People took notice of her fight, and Grunewald posted personal messages on Instagram, detailing her experiences, both good and bad.

The runner was battling cancer again by 2016, and it continued to affect her for the rest of her life. Despite this, she kept running, even founding two new races, both of which are aimed to raise both funds and awareness for rare cancer research. Sadly, Grunewald passed away on June 11 at just 32 years old. Many have reached out to express their gratitude for her inspiring message and fighting spirit.

Contextualized with the recent passing of Kelly Catlin earlier this year, though under very different circumstances, it's important to understand just how many sports stars have had their careers fatefully cut short. Click through this gallery to find out which sports stars died too young.


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