Olympic athletes train for years to hoist the gold medal and represent their nation. However, these athletes also face a considerable amount of mental health issues. These will now be on display during an upcoming HBO documentary, The Weight of Gold.
According to HBO, the film features Michael Phelps, Jeremy Bloom, Lolo Jones, Gracie Gold, Bode Miller, Apolo Anton Ohno, Sasha Cohen, Shaun White, David Boudia and Katie Uhlaender. Jeret Peterson and Steven Holcomb also appear posthumously. These athletes detail the mental health challenges that they faced during their careers. "None of us had normal childhoods," Phelps says in the recently-released trailer.
Phelps continued and explained that the majority of athletes suffer post-Olympics depression once the gates to the Olympic Village close. The other athletes agreed and explained that they all faced various levels of depression. Phelps specifically said that he viewed himself only as a swimmer and not as a human being.
As multiple medal-winners stated, they did not "talk about their weaknesses" despite having depression put them in a spiral. Others mentioned that they did not develop any outside hobbies away from their training schedules. "I've given my blood, sweat and tears, and all I'm asking is that someone helps me get through this," Jones said.
Brett Rapkin directed The Weight of Gold while Phelps served as executive producer, along with Brett Rapkin, Peter Carlisle and Michael O'Hara Lynch. Phelps also narrated the documentary. Peter Nelson and Bentley Weiner also joined the project as executive producers for HBO.
The Weight of Gold debuts on July 29, the same time the 2020 Tokyo Games were set to begin. The International Olympic Committee delayed the Summer Games until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision followed multiple nations saying they would not attend the Olympics due to health and safety concerns.
This postponement marks the first time that the IOC suspended the Olympics. There were previous cancellations due to ongoing conflicts. The 1916 Summer Games were canceled because of World War I. The Summer and Winter Games in 1940 and 1944 were both canceled due to World War II.
"On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided," IOC member Dick Pound previously told USA Today. "The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know. ...[Planning] will come in stages. We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense."
The Olympics will not take place in 2020, but former athletes will take center stage in a different form. They will discuss reaching the pinnacle of their respective sports and then facing the depression afterward. The Weight of Gold debuts exclusively on July 29 on HBO and also streams on HBO Max.