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Sunday November 18, 2012

Australia’s Mitcham reveals drug abuse over depression

SYDNEY: Australian Olympic gold medallist Matthew Mitcham (pic) beat a secret methamphetamine addiction in the lead-up to the London Games, according to a report yesterday which reveals his battle with depression.

Coming hard on revelations that Australian swimming star Ian Thorpe also fought anxiety and depression, Mitcham has revealed in a new book that cripplingly low self-esteem and injury had helped lead the way to drug abuse.

“Taking it was something I did ... to take my mind off things that were upsetting me – to make me feel better about myself,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Mitcham as saying.

Mitcham, who performed the highest scoring dive in Olympic history to come from behind and snatch gold in the 10m platform in Beijing in 2008, spearheaded Australia’s diving team heading into London.

But he missed a place in the Olympic diving finals.

In a book to be released on Monday, “Twists and Turns”, Mitcham reveals that he turned to clubbing, binge drinking and recreational drugs early in his career to relieve the exertions of training and problems with diving officials.

He quit the sport in 2006, but six months later was back training under a new coach and the partnership led to his Olympic gold.

Despite his success, including four silver medals at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010, he was still plagued by self-doubt, exacerbated by injury, and began smoking crystal meth to improve his mood.

Mitcham, who has sought help from Narcotics Anonymous and others, is now in training for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“The answers continue to elude me,” he writes in the book.

“I may work it out one day.” — AFP

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