Nile Wilson had a glittering career as a gymnast. He was a gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games, had shot to fame by winning Olympic bronze on the high bar and was one of the most popular athletes on social media. He was also a strong contender for Great Britain’s place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. But an injury in 2019 pushed him back to square one and left him struggling with his mental health.
He spoke candidly about his struggle with mental health in a TedTalk earlier this year and says it has made him think harder about what’s important to him. He says he doesn’t want to live his life by chasing the next big thing, but by doing what he loves – and that means being around family and friends, having a good job and helping to inspire children.
A former Olympic gymnast, Nile starred in BBC Three’s Go Hard or Go Home and now is a contender for Dancing On Ice. He was paired with dancer Olivia Smart on the show and the pair have impressed judges and fans with their intricate skates.
On the programme, he talks about his journey from injury to recovery and how he went from being an “obsessive alcoholic” to getting help and starting to recover. He reveals that his addiction started when he was a teenager and that it was something that got worse as he grew older. He shares his experience of battling depression by gambling and drinking, as well as revealing how he reached his “rock bottom” and realised he needed to get help for his addictions.
The former athlete explains how he became so obsessed with his sport that he lost sight of what was truly important to him. He believes that the pressure to win and compete at the highest level encouraged his obsessive nature. He argues that this drive can become addictive as it creates an all or nothing mentality.
He says that he started to feel he had no choice but to continue with these behaviours, even after his injuries, and that it led him down a dangerous path. He said he started to gamble on roulette wheels because he missed the thrill of competing in gymnastics and that this is when things began to go wrong. He explains that he had to start to make changes to his lifestyle, including joining a self-exclusion scheme that banned him from all casinos in the UK.
Luke explains that this is not just an issue for Nile, but a lot of athletes suffer with this kind of mental health issue. He explains how a person who is struggling with their mental health can often withdraw from their families and friends, which can leave them feeling rejected, angry and sad. He explains that this can lead to them feeling like they have no support, which is why it’s so important to talk about their feelings and emotions.