Michael Jamieson retires after opening up on depression battle

Michael Jamieson won the silver medal in the 200m breast stroke at the London Olympics. Picture: Robert Perry The Scotsman.
Michael Jamieson won the silver medal in the 200m breast stroke at the London Olympics. Picture: Robert Perry The Scotsman.
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Olympic silver-medallist Michael Jamieson has retired from competitive swimming.

Jamieson claimed one of Britain’s three swimming medals at the London 2012 Olympics, finishing as runner-up in the 200metres breaststroke.

Michael Jamieson during a team announcement at The Tollcross Swimming Arena, Glasgow. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Michael Jamieson during a team announcement at The Tollcross Swimming Arena, Glasgow. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The Scot subsequently failed to secure a medal at the 2013 World Championships, then came second behind compatriot Ross Murdoch at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

He did not make the 2015 World Championships or 2016 Rio Olympics, and has now called time on his career at the age of 28.

An announcement from Scottish Swimming confirming that Jamieson had retired came on the same day as an interview with him was published by the Sunday Times, in which he opened up on the brutal training regime that led to a battle with depression.

As he pushed his body to its limit in the pursuit of glory after London 2012, his heart went into arrhythmia and he was taken to hospital.

Jamieson admitted he was chasing a feeling of “being utterly dead on your feet” - an approach to training that affected him mentally as well as physically.

“Towards the end of 2013 there were a few weeks where I didn’t even go to training,’’ he said.

“I just kind of sat down and started asking questions, like ‘What am I doing here? All I have to show for 20 years of work is a medal. What does that mean?’.

“Over time I guess it got a bit deeper than that, ‘Whose lives am I enriching by doing what I’m doing? What am I offering here as a person? Who’s benefiting from me being here?’.

“When it got to that level I knew I needed to get help. From that point it just unravelled a bit.

“There were weeks I couldn’t go out. I was living on a diet of anti-depressants and sleeping pills, and just even more destructive behaviour. Not speaking to anyone, completely closed off.

“I started taking the sleeping pills because I kept having these recurring dreams that I was walking off a building. It was then I knew it was getting quite serious.

“Those horrible dreams and thinking I didn’t want to be here any more full stop, that was the final straw. Something inside clicked and said this has gone far too far. It is time to put a stop to this.’’

In its announcement about Jamieson, Scottish Swimming’s performance director Ally Whike said: “Michael has been an inspiration to all within sport - his dedication, professionalism and resilience over the years produced some outstanding performances throughout his senior swimming career.

“As an Olympic medallist in 2012, Michael elevated the sport in Scotland to a new level; he is an outstanding role model for any youngster making their way within the sport.”