Wales

Iwan Thomas and Prince Harry discuss depression

Iwan Thomas and Prince Harry at Heads Together event at Kensington Palace - cooking burgers Image copyright Heads Together

Former Welsh sprint champion Iwan Thomas has shared his experience of depression with Prince Harry at a Kensington Palace event.

The one-time European and Commonwealth 400m winner said he now realised he was experiencing mental health problems after injury cut short his career.

The pair flipped burgers together at a Heads Together charity event.

Prince Harry spoke of his regret about not talking about how the death of his mother, Princess Diana, affected him.

As they stood behind the hot coals wearing aprons the Prince asked the former 400m sprinter how the spate of injuries that ended his career affected him.

"What was it for you, was it a massive gaping hole - was it a form of depression?" he questioned.

Thomas replied: "I think yes, depression definitely. I didn't have one injury that was suddenly like 'you have to retire tomorrow' that almost might have been easier - being dealt a really bad blow."

"I'd loads of little niggling injuries whereby I looked like I was going to get back, I could train three or four days a week, I had a couple of seasons where it looked like I was going to run fast again, then another injury would come in.

"I kept trying and trying, thinking 'one more season, I can get back', that's all I wanted to do was get back to where I wanted to be, then quit, and I never got back."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPrince Harry: "Everyone can suffer from mental health issues"

In 1998 the sprinter had his best year, winning the 400m titles at the Commonwealth Games, European Championships and the IAAF World Cup, and was later tipped by Michael Johnson, who at the time was dominating the event, to take over his reign.

But he retired in 2006 after several injuries prevented him from competing.

Heads Together was founded by the Prince and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and has brought together eight mental health charities and organisations to tackle the stigma around depression and other psychological problems.

Other sporting stars turned out to support the event including the former England footballer Rio Ferdinand and Olympic gold medallists Victoria Pendleton and Dame Kelly Holmes.

Harry said to the ex-sportsman: "You've said you've never talked about it before - apart from standing around a barbecue with me - has it made it easier, the fact that people like Kelly, other people in similar situations to yourself, have come forward and started talking about it?"

Thomas agreed and said he had been helped by a former girlfriend and was now in a "happy place" and enjoying television work.

Image copyright Heads Together

Related Topics

More on this story