Olympics star Beth Dobbin pays moving tribute to NHS nurse

Doncaster's Beth Dobbin. Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty ImagesDoncaster's Beth Dobbin. Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Doncaster's Beth Dobbin. Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Olympics star Beth Dobbin took her moment in the limelight to pay a moving tribute to her best friend’s mother – a long serving NHS nurse who took her own life earlier this year.

The 27-year-old, from Sprotbrough, finished fifth in the 200m semi-finals in Tokyo on Monday.

In her post-race television interview she shone a light on the difficulties all athletes have faced during the pandemic and revealed the devastating loss of a close friend.

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The subject of athletes’ mental health is topical after decorated U.S. gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from some events to protect her mental health, while cricketer Ben Stokes has done the same ahead of England’s Test series with India.

Dobbin told BBC Sport: “Dina [Asher-Smith] did a really good captain's speech where she said this group of Olympians are the most resilient that we've probably ever had and that just really touched a nerve with me because obviously I've been through a lot myself and also this past 18 months has been really difficult for every athlete.

“Can I just take this moment to shout out my best friend's mum Julie. She was an NHS nurse for 34 years and she took her own life in June.

“She was a frontline NHS worker so it's been a really really difficult year with Covid.

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“I'm just proud of myself that I stuck at it, and proud of all the other athletes on the team because it's not been an easy 18 months at all for anyone.”

Dobbin overcame epilepsy to reach the pinnacle of her sport.

Prior to turning professional just three years ago, she combined running with working 40 hours a week to self-fund her athletics career.

Former U.S. sprinter and four-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson, working as a pundit for BBC Sport, said: “We don’t know what so many of these athletes are going through and what they have dealt with, whether it be friends or deaths in the family, people struggling with Covid, the restrictions.

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"It’s been different for everyone depending on where you come from, so you really don’t know what anyone is bringing in to these championships.”