In a his just released tell-all book,"Twists and Turns,'' Matthew Mitcham, the 2008 Beijing gold medalist, has revealed his battle with low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks as a teenager. These were just the prelude to his later dependence on crystal meth. This follows fellow Olympian Ian Thorpe's revelations about similar battles. It’s always a shock when our sporting icons share the traumas that took them to their lows while we were busy celebrating their highs.
The good news is that Mitcham will be free to compete in future Australian Olympic teams. Fans will recall that he failed to make the final 12 at the London Games this year. Putting that disappointment behind him, he is back in training for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
In his book, Mitcham also tells about self-harming in his teenage years and being diagnosed with clinical depression at age 14. His single mother, Vivienne, a loving but emotionally erratic parent, was later diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. As a child, her moods terrified him. He took comfort in books and a rusty trampoline. Coming to terms with his sexuality fairly early on, he also describes his coming out experiences and early adventures on Brisbane’s gay scene.
The 24-year-old says he battled with black moods and low self-esteem in the injury-plagued years after his triumph in the 2008 Games. At that point he began to smoke crystal meth to lift his spirits. Mitcham has now climbed back from last year's depths with the aid of Narcotics Anonymous, a drug rehabilitation clinic, hypnotherapy and the support of his inner circle.
The popular athlete’s revelation came as a surprise to the Australian Olympic Committee, but it appears that his drug use does not fall under the ‘performance-enhancing’ category which would lead to questions about his performance in the Games.
Lustralboy applauds Matthew’s frank and unsparing revelations. We wish him a sustained recovery from the addiction and a renewed battle with Tom Daley in Rio in 2016.
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