Hockey star reveals health battle
HOCKEY poster girl Anna Flanagan (pictured) may be a picture of health but until recently, her fit physique was a dangerous obsession.
The former World Young Player of the Year in field hockey has revealed she has secretly battled a recurring eating disorder since bursting onto the international stage seven years ago.
“It’s not something I’ve ever shared publicly, but I went from eating the perfect diet to become the perfect athlete to obsessing about food,” Flanagan said.
“Initially, it started as anorexia and I restricted my diet, but it turned into bulimia.”
Flanagan, 25, is attempting to revive her international career after a horror 2016, when she was dumped from the national team for covering up a drink-driving conviction. For the first time since she was a teenager, the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist missed a string of international tournaments through suspension and was subsequently passed over for Rio Olympics selection. Flanagan now concedes she “self-sabotaged” her career in reaction to a “toxic” culture inside the Hockeyroos camp. As s u mi n g her sporting career was over, she finally withdrew from the limelight and stared down her mental de- mons with the help of psychologists.
“Don’t feel embarrassed or afraid of being judged about your mental health. Once you open yourself up, people will be there to point you in the right direction,” she said.
Flanagan said going public with her mental health issues was a daunting prospect. However, she has found smashing the taboo so liberating, she will tomorrow assume the mantle of Headspace Day ambassador.
The charity has posed the question, “What makes you feel better?” It wants people to write down and post a photo of the answer on a placard from headspaceday.org.au using the hashtag #headspaceday. HEADSPACE.ORG.AU