Olympic athletes mean class. Their glorious performances are for the world to see and be proud of. But there’s no denying that even sportspersons of that class have to battle ‘depression’. The latest to share such experiences is US swimmer and five-time gold medallist Missy Franklin.
Even though the crowd praises the spontaneous finish or the podium wave makes every win worth counting, no athlete is happy when faced with depression
The world renowned athlete was only 17 when Olympic success came knocking at her door.
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Franklin clinched four gold medals at the young age at London 2012, breaking two world records in the process
The fame of being a celebrated athlete at such a young age came with consequences. She began grappling with mental health issues. “I think as role models in sport we often feel this pressure to be strong and tough all the time,” Franklin told CNN Sport at the recent Laureus awards.
After six years, she now knows the perspective of an athlete. According to her, a winner’s life came with a prize to be paid. Endless compromises, media talks and the burden of the trophies eventually got to her.
“I think people sometimes forget that we’re human too, and we have days when we’re exhausted and not motivated and don’t want to go to practice and I think it’s so important for young athletes to see that.”
Determined to held others
Franklin is now determined to help suffering younger athletes, to coach them to strengthen and battle depression. This is the reason she has gone public about her own experiences of depression.
Talking about it, Franklin said the weight of Olympic expectation and what happens afterwards is overwhelming. “You’re these Olympic athletes, you’re supposed to be really strong, and you’re supposed to be really confident.
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Rio state of mind
“Going into Rio, I was in the best physical shape of my entire life, I had the best year of training I’d ever had, and that meant nothing because mentally I was in such a terrible place that I was useless, my body was useless, I couldn’t have the power or control over my thoughts that I had had before and so when that’s not there it doesn’t matter how much training you do,” she expressed.
Franklin thanked two other US swimmers for helping her cope up with the issues she faced by openly talking about depression.
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“I feel so fortunate because I had so many incredible athletes pave the way for me. I had Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt, who were two of my really good friends and teammates for so long; both really openly talk of their depression and what they went through. I just think we need so much more of that.” she said.
And, here’s the friendly tips from the Olympian:
“I think we need to start putting importance on self-confidence, on positive thinking and most importantly on perspective for athletes that are feeling so much pressure, so they understand that their value is not intrinsically placed on a medal or a time, that they’re so much more than the person they are when they’re competing.”
Feature Picture Credits: Wall Street Journal
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