Sports Icons Talk About Mental Health Awareness Among Athletes

Indian athletes had the whole nation over the moon and were delighted with their international achievements in the recent Tokyo Olympics! Whether it is Neeraj Chopra who won India’s first athletic gold medal, Mirabai Chanu with a silver in weightlifting or our wonderful Paralympic athletes like Avani Lekhara, Pramod Bhagat, the list is endless. But the question that comes up right now is, are we aware of what they have to go through?

The Need Of The Hour

You must have heard about Tennis player Naomi Osaka who withdrew from the French Open to tend to her mental health, or England cricketer Ben Stokes who withdrew from a series to prioritise his mental health after a tough last few and American gymnastics star Simone Biles who had opted out of five of the six finals at the Tokyo Olympics because of a mental block.

Indian Athletes Speaking Out Against The Mental Health Stigma

1. Tennis Player Sania Mirza

Tennis Player Sania Mirza says, “A lot of high profile players and athletes coming out and saying they are not okay. People sometimes forget that athletes are regular humans too and also feel the pressure of many things mentally, not just physically. Definitely, there is more and more talk about mental health now and people are more aware.

2. Cricketer Virendra Sehwag

Mental pressure can be of various forms like Cricketer Virendra Sehwag recalled the pressure of not being able to converse in English. “I did not know how to speak in English. Speaking in English was also a mental challenge for me. I wanted him to ask questions in Hindi, but he (Shastri) asked the first question in English. At that time, we used to focus on playing good cricket and not on English. But, I learned English because international matches had to be played. It is a matter of pride that now I speak the English language and I am not afraid of anyone.

3. Badminton Player PV Sindhu

PV Sindhu said, “When I had a stress fracture in 2015, I had pain but didn’t tell anyone. I was bearing that pain and then told my dad that there was pain and we went. The 2016 Olympics qualification was there and I was almost depressed. I played almost 22 tournaments after the injury and got selected for Rio. It was not a small injury. Even though I was injured I was doing my upper body exercise. I believed that I can do it and I have done it“.

5. Cricketer Virat Kohli

India’s cricket team captain also shared that he felt immense pressure after the failure in England in 2014. It was one of the times when he didn’t know what to do, what to say or how to communicate with his team. After going through that time, he realised the importance of mental peace.