Carruth warns on pitfalls of Olympic fame
Published 30/11/2011 | 05:00
OLYMPIC gold medallist Michael Carruth wants sports chiefs to prepare athletes for the "instant fame" success can bring.
Mr Carruth, who won gold in Barcelona in 1992, said more needed to be done to prepare athletes mentally for life after Olympic success.
"It's microwave fame -- it's instant fame. Your life is turned on its head. You can't go for a drink anymore, you can't walk down the street without being recognised.
"This is where the Olympic Council have to step up to the mark. I think there should be some kind of policy to counsel athletes to the reality that things might never be the same again," he said.
"It's not just the intrusiveness of the media, it's also when you're going about your everyday life.
"You look at poor Darren Sutherland who went pro when he went to London. We don't know for certain the circumstances of his death but all we know is, unfortunately, his life was lost probably by his own means.''
The body of Sutherland, who won bronze at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, was found hanging in his London apartment in September 2009.
The 27-year-old had won the first four fights of his professional career but was battling severe depression at the time of his death. His family are still waiting for an inquest to be held.
Mr Carruth was speaking at the launch of 'The 2012 Olympic Team in London' at Holy Trinity Primary School in Donaghmede, north Dublin, which will teach children about the games and their history.
He also suggested Beijing silver medallist Kenny Egan may have tempered his behaviour somewhat had he been schooled on the pitfalls of overnight fame.
"I know Kenny Egan for years and he would probably be the first to admit that he was his own worst enemy," Mr Carruth explained.
"Kenny has openly admitted that he couldn't handle the pressure. Kenny let it get to him."
Boxer Darren O'Neill, who teaches fifth class at the school, will get his chance to taste sporting success when he competes in next year's games in London.
The Kilkenny man said he couldn't wait to step into the ring but knew first-hand how the pressure could sometimes get too much.
"It's a lifetime dream so to get this chance is amazing. Even at European level I notice when I come back from championships you nearly go into a state of depression for two, three weeks because you're no longer in a routine.
"It's so exciting when you're there so when you come back and try to blend back into normal life it can be difficult.
"So I can only imagine what the Olympics is going to be like," he said.