Athletes open up on mental health in England Athletics Podcast
The England Athletics Podcast can be listened to via the following links:
theathleteplace teamed up with England Athletics, two-time Olympian & mental health consultant Jack Green and England international sprinter Darcey Kupyers to discuss all things mental health in sport. Hosted by Alex Seftel, it made for a great discussion as he summarises below.
“I missed a medal by two-hundredths of a second and it was the first time I’d stepped off the track and was incredibly proud of myself,” says Jack Green.
The two-time Olympian and 400m hurdler is a long-time advocate for speaking out about depression. As someone who lived the dream of being selected for London 2012 on home soil, it was fascinating to hear him pick finishing fourth at the 2018 Commonwealth Games as his favourite career moment to reminisce about.
As he explains in an open discussion on mental health in the England Athletics Podcast: “It showed how far I’d come on my journey that I could technically lose or fail – as I would have seen it before – and be really happy with my performance.”
The episode sees Jack joined by theathleteplace founder Joe Fuggle and fellow international competitor Darcey Kuypers, with the trio covering everything from pressure to burnout and comparison to wellbeing within the sport.
It’s clear just how passionate all three are about getting others to open up, supporting them and ultimately normalising conversation about everyone’s unique and individual, yet often shared struggles.
Joe seeks to raise awareness of how he went through “quite severe athlete burnout” as a young hurdler. “It was something that happened because I didn’t quite get the balance right between sport and the other things that are important in life. That then took its toll on my mental health.”
His words are a clear reminder that physical health is intrinsically linked to what is going on psychologically. “If you’re not a happy athlete then you’re not going to be a fast athlete,” Fuggle says.
Darcey, who runs an Instagram page called ‘Not Just Physical’, is an international sprinter who has battled with anxiety disorders from a young age. She talks about how negative thoughts can creep into performances on the track, particularly when it comes to dealing with expectation.
“I struggled a lot when I started running faster than I had been, when I started running in finals, placing in the medals and getting my England vest. I just couldn’t really deal with everyone looking at me…it made me very anxious…sometimes I would think about that more than my actual race.”
A number of self-care tips are mentioned, with Jack insisting “your controllable is you” and you shouldn’t worry too much about the actions and opinions of those outside of an inner circle that includes your loved ones and those you look up to.
If you feel like you can relate to or want to discuss anything spoken about, head over to theathleteplace discussion hub.
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