DO we put too much pressure on our elite athletes? Are our hopes that they should be “practically perfect in every way”, just like the mythical but wonderful Mary Poppins, wildly out of line, and why are we surprised when they don’t always reach our unwieldy expectations?

Case in point is the recent revelation by short track speed skater Elise Christie that she has suffered from poor mental health for nearly four years, using anti-depressants for the latter two. Elise has come through the other side and now is keen to let everyone know that it’s OK not to be OK! Elise herself said: “People were saying how strong I was the way I handled both Olympics – but I actually wasn’t coping and I didn’t want to admit that because of how people perceived me. I have to admit, I was one of those people.”

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Some people believe that you need a little bit of luck when you are an athlete and that was one thing that seemed to elude Elise. Crashing out of the 1500m semi-final at Pyeongchang in 2018, she was understandably in tears, given that we all believed that this was her time following her disqualification at Sochi 2014 – although to this day I believe that it was a harsh and debatable decision.

The abuse she received on social media following this was in itself to an extent unprecedented and extremely personal and hurtful. However that again was when we, the general public, felt she was superhuman dealing with it on a daily basis. How wrong could we be! However she has now moved into another sphere opening up about her anxiety and self-harming, showing young athletes and all young people in general, that you can have hope and you should seek help.

Talking about any issue that is troubling you, with a friend, a councillor, a coach or whoever – whichever one feels right – is indeed a brave step to take. For the general public to benefit from this young women’s experience by opening up about this very private issue, does in fact take immense strength of will. I am delighted to hear her say that she is excited about skating, excited about life and that she is not scared any more.