Athletics legend Michael Johnson hails Matthew Hudson-Smith’s success after mental health struggles

Matthew Hudson-Smith’s glittering summer of success just a year after he attempted suicide may serve as a beacon of hope and attract more people to athletics, claims Michael Johnson.

Britain’s 400m star Hudson-Smith, 27, won bronze at the World Championships in Oregon in July before revealing he was “three years of absolute hell” had gone through.

Hudson-Smith made history as the first British athlete to win medals at three different major championships in the same summer after taking silver at his home Commonwealth Games in Birmingham before defending his European title in Munich.

“It’s very good to see that athletes who’ve been through these struggles are succeeding at the highest level, which gives hope to other people,” said former 400m world record holder Johnson, who was speaking as an ambassador for the Professional Triathletes Organization US Open in his hometown of Dallas.

“But it also makes these great athletes human, which I think is great for getting more fans into a sport.”

American icon Johnson, 55, loved seeing Hudson-Smith’s medals in his role as a BBC commentator and praised his decision to speak openly about his mental health struggles while admitting it’s always a personal choice, such ones to share intimate information.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist added: “I was so pleased to see that Matt had a very successful summer with a medal at the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games.

“It was a good championship and a good year for him. It’s a very personal story, it’s his choice whether to share it or not, but he did.

“The athletes who, like Matt, choose to share their stories are important to the sport because the people who are sitting at home can relate to that and have been in the same situation.

“It was good to see Matt telling his story, but even better to see him so successful after what he’s been through personally and what he’s revealed about his mental struggle, but even just on the track he’s got that too struggling with injuries.

“So he overcame those two things in two different ways.”

Hudson-Smith, who is from Wolverhampton but now lives in Florida, had struggled with Achilles tendon, hamstring and hip injuries since 2019 before struggling when separated from his family and during the coronavirus pandemic in the United States stuck.

Those fitness issues dashed Hudson-Smith’s hopes of a second appearance at last year’s Tokyo Olympics after finishing eighth in Rio 2016, but he was a renewed force in 2022.

(Getty Images)

After topping the podium at the European Championships in August, Hudson-Smith looked back on a seismic summer, which came to life when he broke Iwan Thomas’ 25-year-old British record in Oregon’s Diamond League in May with a Lap broke before he clinched a hat-trick of important medals.

He said: “It was a good win and I did exactly what I wanted to do, I’m so happy to be European champion again.

“It’s been a busy summer but I’m so excited to be competing against the best in the world, that’s all I could ask for.

“This win is proof to my coach and the team around me that we are on the right track and have delivered this year.”

Hudson-Smith then gave a stirring message of inspiration to those watching after a few years of rollercoaster riding. He said: “Last year was a big low. You fight many battles and I’m pretty sure everyone in the world has been fighting their own demons.

“But I am a testament that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Anyone who goes through struggles just fight through and you will come through.”

:: Michael Johnson was a special guest of the Professional Triathletes Organization at the PTO US Open in Dallas. The PTO is a new sports organization owned by the athletes that is trying to take the sport of triathlon to the next level. For more information visit Athletics legend Michael Johnson hails Matthew Hudson-Smith’s success after mental health struggles

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