Snowboarding gold medalist Chloe Kim gets real about her mental health struggles and triumphs

When world champion gymnast Simone Biles opened up about his struggles in mental health after leaving the Tokyo Olympics last summer, the world heard something we rarely hear from superstar athletes: I am also human.

It’s easy to see someone excelling at the top of their field, doing things no one has done before, as superhuman. We even use that word to describe their exploits at times, but it’s important to remember that each person is a complex mix of mind, body, and spirit. We know that it takes an enormous amount of resilience and mental toughness to reach an international podium in any sport, but no one is immune to the ups and downs of mental health. And the top of the podium is sometimes where athletes feel those ups and downs most intensely.

At 21, Chloe Kim just won her second Olympic gold medal for the USA in snowboard halfpipe at the Beijing Olympics, becoming the first woman to take home back-to-back gold medals in the sport. But after winning at PyeongChang in 2018, she began to wonder if she was worth it. In fact, at one point, she even threw her first gold medal in the trash at her parents’ house.


“He hated life,” Kim said. HOUR. International fame had hit hard and fast. At 17, despite being known as a prodigy in the snowboarding world, Kim was used to living a normal teenage life. Suddenly going to her favorite bakery for a bite to eat became an ordeal.

“By the time I get home, I can’t even go to my favorite damn place,” Kim said. “It makes you angry. I just wanted a day where I was left alone. And it is impossible. And I appreciate that everyone loves me and supports me, but I just wish people could understand what I was going through up until that point.”

He dug his medal out of the trash, but the mental toll of high-pressure competition and overnight fame remained.

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And it wasn’t just having all eyes on her that was the problem. Some of those eyes were accompanied by mouths that spewed anti-Asian hatred at her.

“I experience hate on a daily basis,” Kim wrote. in an ESPN op-ed last april. She shared that she sees maybe 30 hateful posts a day, like “Stupid Asian p—-. Kiss my ass.

Kim wrote that when she won her first X Games medal at age 13, she began to hide parts of her identity, such as the fact that she speaks fluent Korean, after people disparaged her achievement because she is Asian. She felt embarrassed about her inheritance because of people’s responses, but now she feels guilty about how disrespectful she was to her father, who came to the US to give her family a better life.

In a recent powerful video Produced by P&G Everyday, Kim shared the role her father played in helping build the confidence and determination to become the Olympic champion she is today.

Being in the spotlight at such a young age put her in an awkward position to deal with the racism that came her way, both internally and externally.

“I was expected to speak out and be an activist,” he wrote. “It was a lot of responsibility. I still don’t know how to talk about all of this. It’s hard to talk about these things. In snowboarding, all my friends are white and no one had these conversations.”

In addition to racism, sudden fame and exhaustion from the competition, or perhaps because of it, Kim felt “an emptiness” after winning the gold medal in PyeongChang. That’s when she decided to take a break from snowboarding to go to college in Princeton in the fall of 2019.

However, he could not escape his fame and the first part of the semester was difficult. He frequently called home crying. She soon began making friends who didn’t know much about her, which helped her broaden her own horizons. Her time at Princeton also allowed her to see other motivated and talented people who strive to succeed, and sometimes fail, which was good for her, she TIME said.

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“Everyone around me was falling apart when it came time to take a test,” Kim said. “It’s a shit show. People hide in the darkest part of the library until 3 in the morning, and then they come out as zombies at 7 and start all over again. That was great. It was like, ‘I need this. I need to see other amazing people fall apart.

After the pandemic hit and in-person classes were cancelled, Kim returned to snowboarding and embraced therapy for her anxiety.

“It’s been a huge improvement in my mental health,” he said. told Shape magazine. “I’m learning to open up more and communicate my feelings to the people around me.”

And that’s part of what makes Kim’s victory at the Olympics so significant. It’s an inclusive victory for millions of people working to overcome adversity, mental health challenges, and the rigors of everyday life. Very few of us will be Olympic champions, but we can all appreciate Kim’s incredible journey as a person who deserves respect.

“Now I am very proud to be a Korean-American,” she wrote on ESPN.com. “I was nervous about sharing my experiences with racism, but we need to hear more about these conversations. I’ve gotten so many messages from people saying they’re inspired to share what I’ve been through and it makes me feel hopeful.” and as if I could still do so much more”.

Thank you Chloe Kim. Spoken like a true champion.

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