Sports psychologist Gerry Hussey, who worked with Ireland’s boxing team at the Olympic Games, has said that the athletes face very tough times ahead.

“It is now that the work starts for me because post-games is one of the most difficult times for any athlete,” said Mr Hussey.

When the dust has settled and the media has moved on, athletes would be challenging themselves — redefining who they were and setting new life goals.

Some of the boxers are still very young, and it will be harder for them to recover because they had their dreams snatched away from them, explained Mr Hussey.

Mr Hussey said boxers who remain on the Olympic programme will continue to have access to doctors and psychologists.

“There were areas of our performance that were under par, and we accept that completely, but there were also areas where we performed very well,” he said.

“Boxers like Michael Conlon and Katie Taylor delivered winning performances, but they did not get the decision they deserved. That was very hard to take.

“We believed we delivered performances to win at least three medals but because of the judging set-up, we did not get them.”

He said everyone became emotional at the end, not just the boxers.

“None of us are in it for the money,” he said. “We put our lives on hold and gave it everything we had.”

Mr Hussey will be one of a number of high-profile speakers at the Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit on October 14 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

“I’m glad we have got to a point where people can talk frankly and openly about mental health. Now the challenge is to turn that conversation into action.”

Rugby pundit and mental health ambassador Brent Pope and Gerry Hussey, performance psychologist, at the launch of the first ever Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit. The summit will take place during Mental Health Awareness week on October 14 at Dublin’s Aviva stadium, in partnership with Laya healthcare. Picture: Paul Sherwood
Rugby pundit and mental health ambassador Brent Pope and Gerry Hussey, performance psychologist, at the launch of the first ever Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit. The summit will take place during Mental Health Awareness week on October 14 at Dublin’s Aviva stadium, in partnership with Laya healthcare. Picture: Paul Sherwood

Also due to speak at the conference, organised by White DiamondMarketing Events in partnership with Laya Healthcare, is rugby analyst Brent Pope.

Pope has talked openly about his mental health issues and is an ambassador for a number of mental health charities.

He recalled being on the Ryan Tubridy Show when he was meant to talk about the forthcoming rugby season. At the time he was feeling particularly low.

Tubridy asked if there was anything wrong and he ended up talking about his crippling anxiety and panic attacks.

Afterwards, Pope went around to the back of the RTÉ radio studio, fell to his hands and knees, and cried. He felt he had exposed his vulnerable side, and feared the public would reject him.

“I was always told to only show your emotion on the rugby field, not off it ,” said Pope, who now speaks about mental health to give other people hope.


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