2019 World Athletics Championship: Britain's Tom Bosworth reveals mental health issues

Tom Bosworth
Bosworth has been selected for the British Squad to compete at the 2019 World Championships in Doha

British race walker Tom Bosworth has revealed his battle with mental health issues after a "heartbreaking" disqualification at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London.

Bosworth was leading the men's 20km walk when he was shown three red cards for technique infractions.

The 29-year-old has told BBC Sport he was "depressed" and "drank quite a lot" after the incident.

"I went on holiday straight after but I struggled with mental health," he said.

"I don't think I realised the impact it had on me but you build your life around these one championships.

"The Olympics had gone so well the year before [when he finished sixth], I didn't even comprehend the Worlds going so badly and it took its toll."

He appeared to have recovered from the setback as he won silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, but the athlete from Sevenoaks says "things still weren't quite right" after the event on the Gold Coast.

"I spoke to British Athletics to say I didn't enjoy what I was doing and it was having a huge impact," he added.

"I didn't go training because I wanted to block it all out as I thought I would have been a world medallist by now.

"The awareness of mental health is massive now and I was fortunate to get the support I did, but it took me a long time to process it and then ask for help. If this was 10 years ago, who knows if I would still be competing?"

Bosworth has now shaken off the disappointment of London and says the experience has taught him to "appreciate and enjoy everything" because he is "lucky" to be a full-time athlete.

He added: "I have learned that it is not the end of the world if things don't go to plan."

'I'm not going to run down the road with the rainbow flag'

Bosworth has been selected for the 2019 World Championships in Doha, which takes place from 27 September to 6 October, despite suffering with injury in recent months.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar but, as an openly gay athlete, Bosworth insists he will "go there and be myself".

"I'm sure when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) awarded Doha the competition, they took all of this into consideration and they would have been naive not to," he said.

"There was quite a lot of criticism and fears for supporters going to the Russia football World Cup but it was fantastic event and hopefully Doha will use this to show they are a country that welcomes all, and put on a great show.

"I'm not going to start running down the road with rainbow flags and demanding equality but it is certainly a stage where we can be ourselves.

"If I can do some good without criticising anybody else's country, hopefully countries might learn by hosting competitions like this and develop from it."

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