Success in professional sports is as much about overcoming physical challenges as it is about combating mental barriers. Some of the greatest champions across sports have had to deal with horrible mental health issues. Here are eight champion athletes and their tryst with mental health.
Success in professional sports is as much about overcoming physical challenges as it is about combating mental barriers. Some of the greatest champions across sports have had to deal with horrible mental health issues. As the world observes World Mental Health Day on October 10, here are eight champion athletes who have shared their insights on battling the subject.
Naomi Osaka | Tennis star Naomi Osaka is one of the biggest advocates of mental health. In 2021 she withdrew from the French Open. Before pulling out of the tournament Naomi said, “The truth is I have suffered bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.” Osaka has firmly stood for the mental well-being of athletes. (Image: Reuters)
Serena Williams | Another tennis player who has her fair share of mental health issues is Serena Williams. The recently retired tennis legend in 2011 revealed that she had been battling depression since winning Wimbledon the previous year. “I cried all the time. I was miserable to be around,” she said in a 2011 interview with The Telegraph.(Image: Reuters)
Virat Kohli | Cricket icon Virat Kohli has also spoken freely about his struggles with mental health. Earlier this year, Kohli took a short sabbatical from cricket to look after his mental health. On his return to teal India Kohli spoke freely on his poor mental health which led to a dip in his performance. "I came to the realisation that I was trying to fake my intensity a bit recently. I was convincing myself that no, you had the intensity. But your body is telling you to stop. Your mind is telling me to take a break and step back", said the former Indian captain. (Image: Reuters)
Ben Stokes | Another top cricketer who was forced to take a break from international cricket to address his mental well-being is England's Test skipper Ben Stokes. The all-rounder took a break from the sport last year after he suffered a series of panic attacks. When Stokes did return to full-time cricket he was still struggling with mental health issues. In an Amazon Prime documentary, Stokes says: "I never thought I would be on medication to help me for that kind of stuff. I am not embarrassed or ashamed to say it because I needed the help at the time"(Image: Reuters)
Michael Phelps | Legendary swimmer Michael Phelps has also had his share of mental health issues. The US swimmer has survived depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts for years. Here is how Phelps described his suicidal thoughts “I felt like I didn’t want to be alive anymore and I felt for me that I was causing a lot of stress and issues for other people around me, so I thought the best thing for me to do was just leave" (Image: Reuters)
Simone Biles | The United States Olympic champion gymnast Simone Biles struggled with mental health during the Tokyo Olympics. Such grave was the mental health issues that she pulled out of her Tokyo Olympics campaign. In an interview with NBC in October 2021, Biles said that she is “still scared to do gymnastics and it is not the same” (Image: AP Photo)
Noah Lyles | American professional sprinter Noah Lyles who is the 2019 world champion, the 2020 Olympic bronze medalist, and the 2022 world champion in the 200 m has also gone through mental agony. In August 2020 Lyles for forced to take antidepressants to counter depression. In a Twitter post, Lyle wrote: "Recently I decided to get on antidepressant medication. That was one of the best decisions I have made in a while. Since then I have been able to think without the dark undertone in mind of nothing matters. Thank you, God, for mental Health. (Image: Noah Lyles Instagram)
Ronda Rousey | WWE Superstar and UFC champion Ronda Rousey has had to battle with her inner demons as much as she had to fight her in-ring competitors. Rousey has suffered from depression that nearly forced her to die by suicide. I did a whole lot of crying, isolating myself,” she said in a 2018 interview with The Guardian,(Image: Reuters)