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Great Britain’s Matt Hudson-Smith revealed he tried to commit suicide during three years of “absolute hell”.
The 27-year-old won bronze in the 400m at the World Championships on Friday but admitted he had suffered mental health problems during some injury-plagued years.
The European champion clocked 44.66 seconds to finish behind the USA’s Michael Norman and Kirani James of Grenada, who took silver in Eugene.
Hudson-Smith has overcome Achilles, hamstring and hip injuries which have wrecked his hopes on the track since 2019 and, after winning his medal in America, bravely detailed the battle which saw him try to end his life.
“I had huge mental health issues in 2021. Not a lot of people know this, but I literally attempted suicide,” he said.
“I was racing knowing I was hurt all the time, going to races knowing I’m not 100 per cent. I couldn’t do the Olympics for several reasons.
“Everyone who has been around me, from my agent, to my coach, family, my girlfriend, honestly… a lot of people would have cracked, it’s just having the best support.
“During Covid I was stuck in America by myself. I love America, but I wanted to be with my family. It was tough.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster. Imagine stepping on the line knowing you’re hurt. You have a whole load of pressure because everyone expects a lot from you. You expect a lot from yourself.
“I made the decision in 2017 that I didn’t want to be one of those what-if people. I wanted to make the big step to get a medal. Really and truly I could have stayed in Birmingham. I love Birmingham.
“I never thought I’d leave Birmingham. When I moved it was now or never. You don’t want to look back and think ‘I could have done this or that’.”
Now based in Florida, Hudson-Smith also admitted his injury problems saw him accrue a significant debt which added to his problems, while he also lost sponsors.
“I didn’t have insurance. I got a huge debt. I remember talking to a lot of people about not doing the sport,” he said.
“My mum and girlfriend were like ‘give it a year’. I was going to be an electrician and then obviously I was trying to get my Green Card.
“Things work in mysterious ways because my Green Card got denied. My mum and others were like, ‘listen, just do this’ and now I’ve got this medal.
“I paid them (debts) all off. Thankfully I got picked up by Puma. They helped out a lot.”
It was Great Britain’s fourth medal in Oregon after Laura Muir won 1500m bronze, Dina Asher-Smith clinched 200m bronze and Jake Wightman’s stunning 1500m gold.
Hudson-Smith outlined before the championships he was ready to quit athletics in 2014 and had applied for the Army while he was working in Asda.
But he persevered and the runner, from Wolverhampton, broke Iwan Thomas’ 25-year-old British record at Hayward Field in May when he ran 44.35 seconds.
On the same track on Friday he could not beat his time with Norman running 44.29 seconds to win and James 44.48 seconds.
Hudson-Smith is advised by 2008 Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and, after overcoming his problems, believes his medal proves he can compete at the top.
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) July 23, 2022
He said: “I always knew I could medal and had the potential to do this. It just solidifies it. I’ve seen it all and maybe I’ve shut a few people up. They might have said I should have stayed at home, I’ve heard everything and they can’t really say anything now.
“For the whole year my coach has been saying ‘the race is lost in the last 20 metres’. In the semis, I looked to my right and I lost my momentum. So in the finals, I was like ‘don’t look at the clock, don’t do anything’. So I was just looking forward.
“It was an anxious wait and then I saw my name and I just dropped to the floor because these three years have been absolute hell.”