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After battling an eating disorder and depression throughout her career, Great Britain’s Hollie Avil has decided to walk away from professional triathlon at the age of 22.
I had finished the race and was sitting with team-mates, talking about the size of female triathletes. I was still swimming a lot and was joking that I still had my big swimmer arms and needed the body fat to be buoyant.
It’s important to note that I didn’t even know what a calorie was and, apart from thinking it was fuel, I had no funny thoughts about food.
That quickly changed when one of the coaches – not mine – said: “You’ll need to start thinking about your weight if you want to run quick, Hollie.” That comment planted a seed in my head that didn’t need to be planted.
From that day on I constantly thought about what went into my mouth. Food became my enemy. I developed an eating disorder.
At the time I didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t until I heard other athletes discussing eating disorders that I realised I had one. I lived in denial. I was losing weight rapidly but I felt great and was running fast.
My life was governed by food. It was a nightmare. I’ll never forgive the coach who said those words to me.
This particular eating disorder came and went pretty quickly. My coach at the time, Ben Bright, had some harsh words, saying he would refuse to coach me unless I sorted myself out. That hit home. My parents also discovered what was going on.
Stopping wasn’t easy.
Read more: Telegraph.co.uk