So you think world-class athletes are as tough as nails? Well, ...

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So you think world-class athletes are as tough as nails? Well, think again

It may seem improbable, but many top sports people are struggling with mental health issues. Let’s learn from them

Kirsten van Heerden

I read with great sadness this past weekend of the provisional suspension of former world champion and South African long jump star Luvo Manyonga. For those who are unaware, Manyonga’s was one of the great redemption stories of sport.

A crystal meth addict, banned for 18 months for failing a doping test in 2012, he cleaned himself up and went on to win a host of major athletics titles, including becoming Olympic silver medallist in 2016, world champion in 2017, Commonwealth Games champion in 2018 and Diamond League champion in 2017 and 2018.

The narrative surrounding his achievements has been that, against all odds, he has beaten addiction. Some people claimed to have had a hand in “saving” Manyonga, in helping him get clean in 2015, putting him on the path to a new life free from past troubles. We all celebrated that Manyonga was free from addiction. We all wanted (maybe even needed) an inspiring story...

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