From the outside, Olympic athletes seem like high-precision machines built for the sole purpose of absolutely dominating the competition. But they’re not machines, they’re human beings. In the new HBO documentary The Weight of Gold, superstar athletes like Michael Phelps, Shaun White, Lolo Jones and others get candid about life after winning the gold in hopes that younger athletes will be prepared for the crushing lows that lie ahead.
In a sobering new trailer ahead of the documentary’s release at the end of July, The Weight of Gold reveals a rarely discussed aspect of life as an Olympic gold athlete. After getting the gold, many of these seemingly invincible competitors find themselves asking, “Is this all there is?” and often spiral into a long-lasting depression with sometimes tragic results. In an effort to warn aspiring athletes who are currently dedicating every moment of their lives to the pursuit of the gold, Phelps and others hope to establish a norm of eliminating the stigma around mental health as a “sign of weakness” and giving the next generation the mental health resources that they never had.
Here’s the official synopsis:
In a typical year, more than 3.6 billion people globally tune in to watch the Olympic Games. What most of these viewers don’t know is that just like one in five Americans, many of these Olympic athletes similarly face serious mental health challenges and struggle to find the necessary support and resources. The Weight of Gold seeks to inspire discussion about mental health issues, encourage people to seek help, and highlight the need for readily available support.
The Weight of Gold premieres July 29 on HBO.