Olympic champ Victoria Pendleton reveals how Sheffield lecturer saved her from suicide
Double Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton has revealed how a former Sheffield University lecturer saved her from suicide.
The cycling ace has opened up about her battle with depression and suicidal thoughts and said that it was only former university lecturer Steve Peters who stopped her from taking her own life.
Victoria, 38, told The Sun in an interview: “When I was at my lowest point, I rang Steve.
“It was at a ridiculous hour in the morning, he picked up and I said I didn’t want to go on.
“But he talked to me and helped me rationalise and try to remove myself from that mindset. He saved me.”
Mr Peters, now British Cycling’s team psychiatrist, has helped a number of high profile sports stars with mental health issues during his career and the pair first became friends in 2004 when Victoria was already self-harming with scissors ahead of the Athens Olympics.
She said: “That day, in May 2004, was a major turning point, and I credit Steve with changing my life and turning my career around.
“He wanted to settle me as a person first because, if I was happier, I’d perform better.
“He helped me understand what drives me and, for the first time in years I felt I had a choice — that my feelings were something I could control and change.
She added: “I feel very lucky to have someone like that in my life. He is great at giving me advice. Sometimes he explains things to me and I immediately feel better.
“If I am struggling, I give him a call and he will say, ‘Ring any time, I am always happy to catch up with you’.”
Mr Peters has worked with Liverpool Football Club, England’s football team, soccer boss Brendan Rogers and world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as well as fellow Olympic cycling champ Sir Chris Hoy.
But when she hit her lowest ebb, she had stockpiled drugs, ready to take an overdose.
“I was on anti-depressants, beta blockers, tranquillisers and sleeping tablets,” she said.
“It must have been 6.30am. I had been awake for hours. I remember lying there with tears rolling down my face. I was so low, so helpless. I just thought, ‘I don’t want to see tomorrow’.” Then she called Steve, who kept her talking until her twin brother Alex could get to her house and take away the pills.
Victoria, who won sprint gold at Beijing 2008 and in the keirin event at London 2012, is now an amateur jockey and admits that she now ‘turned a corner.’
If you have been affected by the issues in this story, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.