HHigh-performance athletes, it is said, have to be crazy, driven by a killer mentality, and obsessed with victory to be successful. When they have achieved their lofty goals, the world admires them for their bite – although their extreme ambition also indicates which psychological border crossers are currently the stars among them. The world is waiting for their next great deed or for them to fall from the sky again. The celebrated feel trapped: Loss of control and the obligation to deliver threaten to make them sick.
Top athletes are expected to be superheroes, Lindsey Vonn said at an event organized by the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission on mental health this week. The once best female ski racer in the world was only able to free herself from her predicament when she revealed that she had been taking psychotropic drugs for her depression for years. The inner pressure to drive yourself to peak performance may have individual, biographical reasons.
To take responsibility
But the environment, the trainers, supervisors, the associations and the big marketers who need the athletes’ heart and soul for their lucrative shows must take responsibility for ensuring that they do not break. Awareness and offers of help have increased in recent years, but it is difficult to reach those affected. Which athlete wants to show weakness?
Although elite athletes are no more likely to experience depression than other people, their problems are specific. The opinion-loving tennis player Naomi Osaka recently made this clear. She announced that she would no longer appear at press conferences during the upcoming French Open, despite the threat of fines. She often feels that the people there have no sense of the mental health of athletes.
Journalist questions like Tribunal
She described the feeling of being confronted with questions after a defeat as humiliating: “I think this situation is all about kicking a person who is already on the ground.” This is often evident after the game: Many athletes see journalists’ questions after a defeat as a kind of tribunal, as if someone turned the knife in their wound again.
It is not easy to put up with such inner hardships without being unsettled. To endure the sudden standstill caused by an injury and fight back. Or to motivate yourself again after the Olympics have been postponed by a year, as happened with the Tokyo Games. And what is it all for?
Air rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra, Indian national hero after his gold medal in Beijing in 2008 and member of the IOC athletes commission, which is actually systematic, finally questioned the whole construct in two sentences: “The system is to blame because it believes that a gold medal is synonymous with happiness . But in truth one would have to reverse this equation and happiness would have to become the gold medal. ”Who would then be at the top of the podium in his new world?