Victoria Pendleton says finding ‘joy’ saved her life from suicide after Olympics fame


Former Olympic cycling champion Victoria Pendleton has always been open about her battle with depression – here she reveals the one thing that saved her life

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Victoria Pendleton breaks down while climbing Everest with Ben Fogle in 2018

Victoria Pendleton has credited “doing things that make me happy” saved her from severe depression.

The 41-year-old Olympian was diagnosed with the disease in 2018 and a year later revealed she was minutes away from suicide.

If she hadn’t called former British cycling psychiatrist Steve Peters, she doesn’t think she would be here now.

Three years after her lowest point, Victoria says her love of surfing and a life-changing trip to Costa Rica made her see a light at the end of the tunnel.

She said OK! magazine: “Basically, I just started doing things that made me happy. One of the things that makes me really happy is going surfing because it’s one of my favorite sports.

Victoria Pendleton with her gold and silver medals from the 2012 Olympics


Redferns via Getty Images)

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“I traveled to Costa Rica and did this for a month. It was hard. Everyone said, ‘You’re crazy. Are you going to go halfway around the world on your own? I told them: ‘I will do it!’ »

Victoria revealed that it was her friend and surf coach who got her out on the water every day.

She continued: “Every day he was like, ‘Let’s go surfing.’ He dragged me outside and it made a huge difference in my life.

“When you are having difficulty, you should do things that bring you joy. I found out that you have to actively seek them out, because they won’t come to you.

Victoria says surfing in Costa Rica saved her life



Prior to her diagnosis of depression, Victoria was one of the best Olympians Britain had ever seen.

After being discovered on the track at the age of 16, she quickly rose to prominence in the cycling world.

She went on to represent Great Britain at the 2005 and 2012 Olympics and won nine world titles, as well as being named Sportswoman of the Year.

Then in 2015, Victoria shocked the world when she announced she was quitting cycling to pursue a career as a jockey.

Victoria gave up cycling to become a jockey


Getty Images)

Despite a backlash at first, as people were “quick to judge her”, she worked hard and continued to prove her critics wrong.

In 2016, she won her first race, which she describes as “probably the greatest achievement of my life”.

Now she says she ‘can’t imagine’ her life without horses and owns two retired racehorses that ‘bring me so much joy’.

His mental health began to deteriorate following a failed ascent of Mount Everest, which was wiped out by hypoxia – a lack of oxygen reaching the body.

In addition to depression, Victoria also developed an eating disorder around the same time.

Knowing she needed professional help because she felt suicidal, she said it was surfing that really changed her life.

The former cyclist is now a patron of the Wave Project, a charity that uses surfing as therapy.

If you need someone to talk to, the Samaritans are available 24/7 by calling 116 123 or emailing [email protected]


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