Ian Thorpe has revealed his years as a teenage swimming prodigy were affected by mental health issues.
The five-times Olympic gold medallist opened up about his struggle with depression in a blog post detailing how the illness was often at odds with the expectations of a gifted young athlete with a “boundless” future.
“I am someone who has struggled with mental health issues since I was a teen,” Thorpe said in the Huffington Post Australia piece. “From the outside, many would not see my pain nor be able to relate to the sometimes-daily struggle I was facing.
“What may appear at face value is a stark difference from the agony that lies within.”
The swimming great, who rose to international prominence with four gold medals as a 15-year-old at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia, admitted to battling depression and alcohol use in his 2012 autobiography.
His desire to not allow the struggle with mental health issues to “define” him have driven his efforts to build resilience to the illness, revealing a burning desire to accomplish more “great things” in his life after swimming.
He also encourages others to maintain their own battles. “I believe that each of us has the ability to shape and create our own reality,” the 33-year-old said. “We may be in the grips of our depression but we do have some control over how it impacts us.
“If you concede to your illness and accept its reality you fall into the trap of not only being depressed but also taking on the depressed mindset.”