Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Bradley Wiggins: ‘Brave’ Tom Dumoulin has changed how cycling views mental health
Sir Bradley Wiggins has openly discussed his mental health battles in the past, and the five-time Olympic champion has praised Tom Dumoulin for opening up on his own struggles. Dumoulin took silver in the individual time trial at Tokyo 2020, just two months after returning to the sport. You want it? We have it. Stream every Olympic event live on discovery+.
'Phenomenal' - 'Brave' Dumoulin has 'walked the walk' - Wiggins
Meanwhile, in the men’s cycling, Dumoulin sealed a sensational silver in the individual time trial just two months after making his return to racing.
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The 30-year-old Dutchman, a former ITT world champion, had taken a break from the sport earlier this year to focus on his mental health, and Wiggins praised the Tokyo silver medallist for changing the way cycling approaches such issues.
"Elite sport is brutal and the demands and pressures athletes put on themselves are such a high standard now,” Wiggins said.
It feels like life and death when you’re out there. It’s OK when you get further down the line, you’re out the sport and it feels not that important. But it’s important when you’re doing it and that’s what becomes hard.
"I’d like to think cycling has changed a bit this year with what Tom [Dumoulin] has done. It’s testament to Tom as it’s come from his courage to say I want a break. It’s a brave thing to do because there’s no guarantee of coming back but he’s walked the walk."
Wiggins added: "It’s a testament to his team as well, it might set to pathway for some sort of welfare within the sport, that people can go away to have a breather without the pressure of contracts – which is difficult in this day and age.”
Dumoulin took a step back from cycling in January, with the Jumbo-Visma rider admitting in April he had “become a little lost” before rediscovering his love for the sport.
Tom Dumoulin of Team Netherlands rides during the Men's Individual time trial on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fuji International Speedway on July 28, 2021 in Oyama, Shizuoka, Japan.
Image credit: Getty Images
"In April I slowly started cycling again and I also came back with a happy feeling more and more often. I thought: ‘Oh yeah, this is really fun after all,’” Dumoulin said, per Cycling Weekly.
"Then I decided to be present at the Amstel. And I found it very nice to see everyone again and to taste the atmosphere of the race. That triggered me to say 'oh, this is a world in which I have built up something in recent years but that has also really become my world.' A world that I really like.”
Wiggins: I was insecure as an athlete
Meanwhile, five-time Olympic gold-medallist Wiggins has openly discussed his mental health struggles in the past.
In a frank conversation with fellow Team GB stars Adam Gemili and Andrew Pozzi on Eurosport’s Gemili & Poz podcast, Wiggins provided a deep insight into his life as an elite athlete.
“I was insecure in many ways as an athlete really,” Wiggins admitted.
“I had a veil and fronted as a bit of a rock star and things like that. I played the guitar – that was all just a front really.
“It wasn’t really me – it was just a veil that I hid behind.”
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The 2012 Tour de France champion added: “You’re expected to be so mentally strong when you’re an athlete – people say – ‘oh you won the Tour de France, you must be so mentally strong’. But it doesn’t correlate to normal life.
“I think a lot of elite athletes are insecure – I was very insecure off the bike – constantly questioning myself, constantly doubting myself.
“But when I could execute a performance, I seemed to be able to have something that dialled in and was able to block out all the emotion and everything. But off it, I didn’t know what to do with myself.”
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