— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 28, 2021
All-American sprinter and hurdler Anna Cockrell was a star on the USC track and field team, and now she’s headed to Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics in just a few weeks. After Cockrell got third place in the 400-meter hurdles and qualified for Tokyo, she gave an emotional speech to reporters where she detailed how far she has come mentally in just a couple years.
“I just trained really hard for this, I worked really hard for this,” she said. “In 2019 I was super depressed, I didn’t want to be here anymore so to be standing here today as an Olympian is like more than I can take.”
According to a profile in The OC Register in 2020, Cockrell first started to experience symptoms of depression in 10th grade and felt depressed again in college after straining her hamstring before the indoor nationals championships. It was her coach Caryl Smith Gilbert who encouraged her to seek help, and she eventually saw a sports psychologist.
Cockrell opened up about her experience during a commencement speech for the USC Student Athlete Graduation Celebration in 2019, saying “The two things I don’t like to talk about are the fact that I’ve battled depression on and off since my 10th grade year, and that I am a perfectionist,” she said. “And this perfectionism means I don’t like to ask for help, I don’t like to seem weak.”
Cockrell opening up about her experience with depression is important to help erase the stigma associated with seeking mental health help among athletes, and is a reminder that it’s OK to ask for help if you need it. We can’t wait to cheer her on in Tokyo!