A headshot of Colin Jackson

Colin Jackson: “Retirement gave me anxiety attacks”

Olympic medallist Colin Jackson has revealed he suffered from mental health struggles following his retirement from international athletics.

“I struggled when I was about to retire…I was suffering a lot from anxiety attacks,” he told Loughborough University’s new Experts in Health podcast.

“It was the combination of a few things, once you retire from sport, that’s it – you’re done. You don’t go back to the track, you’re not with the same friends you’ve been training with, you’re just so isolated.”

“What am I going to do?”

Jackson, who won silver at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, added: “Also for me, it was ‘what am I going to do?’.

“It was a case of not being confident in the real world. I was confident in the world I’d just come from because I was a champion. But now I had to go into the cauldron with everyone else…it was really difficult to get that balance right.”

The former 110m hurdles champion explained to host Dr Chris McLeod how a close friendship circle and expert medical support helped him navigate tricky waters.

“I was really lucky that I could talk to people who were willing to listen…people can help you grow with confidence and abilities – it takes away that burden of being on your own.

“You must be willing to open up because those people will help you on your journey.

“Once my GP sat down with me and guided me through that transition and got me to believe that I still have something to contribute to the world, then I became alright.”

During the recording, Colin also shares his experience of being gay and the challenges and prejudices he has witnessed first-hand. He also touches upon his current career endeavours including his charity work with the Wings for Life.

Experts in Health is a podcast that highlights the latest research and trends in health.

Season one welcomes seven guests across a host of different disciplines and can be viewed in full on the Loughborough University YouTube channel by visiting: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLxZznBvU4YC92nGQuBbn3Ir0IzB2gU6c3&si=PPG8VZxExM3U63Eo

Experts in Health is also available in audio form and listeners can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and TuneIn.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 24/11

About Loughborough University

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It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2022 QS World University Rankings – the sixth year running – and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

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Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes

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