Head start


HOCKEY’S poster girl Anna Flana­gan may be a pic­ture of health but her fit physique was un­til re­cently a dan­ger­ous ob­ses­sion.

The for­mer world hockey young player of the year, who is back liv­ing in Perth, re­vealed she has se­cretly bat­tled a recurring eat­ing dis­or­der since burst­ing on to 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.

As­sum­ing her sport­ing ca­reer was over, she fi­nally with­drew from the lime­light and stared down her men­tal demons with the help of psy­chol­o­gists.

“Don’t feel em­bar­rassed or afraid of be­ing judged about your men­tal health,” she said.

“Once you open your­self up peo­ple will be there to point you in the right di­rec­tion.,”

Flana­gan, pic­tured at Scar­bor­ough beach this week, 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?” and wants peo­ple to write down and post a photo of the an­swer on a plac­ard from headspace­day.org.au us­ing the hash­tag #headspace­day.

Pic­ture: Richard Hatherly

In shape: Anna Flana­gan at Scar­bor­ough and, above, as a Hockeyroo.

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