Posts tagged with "Olympics"

Breanna Stewart illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

PUMA × Breanna Stewart

PUMA SIGNS WNBA SUPERSTAR BREANNA STEWART TO GROUNDBREAKING DEAL

PUMA and Breanna Stewart make history; partnership to include signature shoe

Global sports company PUMA has signed a long-term, groundbreaking partnership with WNBA MVP and Champion Breanna Stewart “Stewie.” The superstar athlete will serve as a brand ambassador both on and off the court and will play a vital role in helping grow PUMA’s business, by collaborating and creating products including a signature shoe.

“I am proud to join the PUMA family,” said Breanna Stewart. “We share a vision to grow the sport and welcome everyone – specifically women and girls – globally. The genuine investment PUMA has shown to collaborate with and activate around women, including the commitment to a signature performance shoe, is something that I hope serves to raise the expectations and standards of the generations of basketball players who follow me.”

Stewart has set a new standard throughout her career, including being the only player of any gender to win four consecutive NCAA Championships and a four-time Most Outstanding Player during her time at the University of Connecticut, being the first overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft, celebrating a gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics and capping off last year’s WNBA season with her second Championship and Finals MVP.  

Beyond the court, Stewart is known for advocacy work around equality and social justice, standing up for Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ community. She also has embraced the opportunity to lend her support and give back to the community by investing in basketball development programs and donating to great organizations like the Black Future Lab.

“We are thrilled to welcome Breanna Stewart into our PUMA family,” said Adam Petrick, Global Director of Brand and Marketing for PUMA. “She embodies what it means to be a PUMA athlete with her on-court determination to her off-court activism for equality in all forms. We are excited to work together in many ways to not only be an advocate in the community but to also help grow the sport for women everywhere.”

Stewart also will be part of PUMA’s newest women’s platform “She Moves Us,” which celebrates women who move culture and sports forward and inspire other women around the world.

soccer illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

MUSCO LIGHTING INVESTS IN U.S. SOCCER FOUNDATION

MUSCO LIGHTING INVESTS $5 MILLION IN U.S. SOCCER FOUNDATION TO KEEP KIDS MOVING DURING PANDEMIC AND BEYOND.

Musco Also Announces Grant Program for Communities to Bring Soccer to Their Areas.

Five-year investment supports Foundations goal to engage 1M kids in soccer programs and create safer places to play in underserved communities.

At a time when families are stuck at home because of a pandemic that has hit underserved communities particularly hard, Musco Lighting announced today that it is investing $5 million over the next five years in soccer programs and facilities to get American children moving. Specifically, Musco is donating this money to the U.S. Soccer Foundation to help fund the Foundation’s goal of engaging one million kids and installing one thousand mini-pitches by 2026 to provide youth in underserved communities with the same opportunities to learn, play, and grow as their peers.

Additionally, Musco is announcing a new grant program that will allow communities to apply for funding to install mini-pitches or fund soccer lighting projects in their areas. Leaders can learn more about these grants and apply for one at https://www.tfaforms.com/4871632.

Musco is a longtime partner of the Foundation having already contributed more than $5 million, including the company’s recent support as a funding partner in the Black Players for Change and Black Women’s Player Collective mini-pitch initiative earlier this year. Since the partnership began with the Foundation in 1999, Musco’s support has helped create or refurbish 200 fields and mini-pitches nationwide.

“Investing in youth soccer and this work is an investment in our communities. Eighty-one percent of kids in our program feel better about their future; eighty-three percent are healthier; and eighty-eight percent work better on teams”, said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “These positive outcomes stay with kids throughout their lives and help prepare them to enter the workforce one day. We are grateful to Musco Lighting for their longstanding partnership with us to brighten the futures of children across the country.”

“The U.S. Soccer Foundation has spearheaded so many important initiatives across the country aimed at empowering young people with essential life skills, relationships, and fitness habits, things that will have a positive impact throughout their lives,’ said Jeff Rogers, President of Musco. ‘We believe strongly in the Foundation’s mission and couldn’t be more proud to be their partner in this significant work.”

For more than twenty-five years, the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s evidence-based programs, and the coach-mentors who run them, have been nurturing children’s personal growth both on and off the field while providing underserved communities with safer places to play.

ABOUT U.S. SOCCER FOUNDATION

The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs are the national model for sports-based youth development in underserved communities. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has established programs proven to help children embrace an active and healthy lifestyle while nurturing their personal growth beyond sports. Its cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Soccer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, visit their website or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

ABOUT MUSCO LIGHTING

Since 1976, Musco Lighting has led the world in the design and manufacture of sports and large area lighting solutions. The company has pioneered lighting systems that enhance the venue and its purpose, are sensitive to the neighborhood and the environment, and are cost-effective to own and operate. Musco has been engineering systems around the LED for more than a decade, and has designed permanent and temporary solutions for everything from local Little League fields to international Olympic Games. The company has earned awards including an Emmy for the quality of its lighting in television broadcasts and a Technical Academy Award, Oscar, for movie lighting. Musco’s global team of experts partner with customers to plan, complete, and maintain a trouble-free solution for their facilities.

Swim illustration for 360 magazine article

Michael Phelps – Seeing a life through the prism of success

Phelps is one of the biggest Olympians ever born. Arguably he is the best swimmer from the United States. His life is a modern-tale, but many hours are invested in self-development. Michael Phelps looks at life through the prism of success. With the desire to win and passion in swimming, he wrote his name in the Olympics books. What’s the actual process of Michael’s training? Is it a myth that Michael swims for hours every single day without a ‘rest’? With this post, we will dig deeper and find the actual process that took Michael from an average swimmer to a world-champion.

Clean water in the swimming pool

Michael’s training consists of two parts every day. He will go swimming in the morning. The second part of the daily routine starts in the evening to finish the day on a high note. There were many trainers in Michael’s career, and all of them know that crystal clear water is the basic need for every swimmer. Training gets easier for a swimmer if the water is clean. If you own a swimming pool, you’ll need swimming pool services to control water quality. When the water in the swimming pool is not controlled, it may lead to serious injuries. As a swimmer, you’ll need help from experienced people to clean water with various flirtations systems. So, Michael’s first rule was the clean water in the swimming pool.

“People underestimate the power of sleep.”

In one of the interviews with CNBC, Michael Phelps admitted that sleeping schedule helps him get better. Michael has won races in the swimming pool with just a few millimetres and milliseconds. Michael realised that he learned the power of sleep at an early age, and it was a big secret to his success. Phelps noted that he couldn’t express the importance of sleep with the words. People always underestimate and overlook the power of sleep when it comes to a proper training regime. For Michael, sleep is a time when his body can recover from daily work. 

Michael Phelps was training from 3 to 5 hours a day, every day without a rest. His body required a good recovery regime, so sleep was the only option. Phelps added that the sleep regime was different. Getting 8 hours of night sleep is essential for every athlete, but if you want to go extra-mile in the marathons or swimming races, you’ll need to take 1-2 hours nap in the early afternoon. 

Put pressure on him.

Olympian was an excellent swimmer from early childhood. His childhood trainer says that Michael was always the best in the school. Even the adults could not beat his time, and he was proud of any achievements. Bob Bowman admitted that Michael was a very tough guy to break; he was training a few hours a day. Once Bob asked Michael to stop swimming and go home. The trainer told Michael that his body could be tired after three hours of training. Michael looked straight into Bob’s eyes and reminded him that his body is never exhausted. At that moment, Bob knew that Michael could become the world’s first swimmer without any doubt. The trainer increased the pressure on Michael, and the swimmer was performing better and better. It’s believed that people show true potential under pressure. 

Vocabulary without “CAN’T”

Bob Bowman said that Michael Phelps knew nothing about the word “CAN’T”. Trainer asked Michael to forget about that word in early childhood. Phelps knows that he can achieve everything, and he needs to focus his energy on particular tasks. Phelps admitted that he has broad thinking and knows that nothing is impossible in this world. Michael says that to achieve success in a specific space, you need to focus only on possibilities.

Give up good for a best

In the first sentence of the article, we wrote that Michael’s life is like a tale. At the same time, his life is full of rewarded risks. In the interview, Michael said that he risked his personal life, and everything worked perfectly in the end. He gave up good for the best achievements. Michael gave up late-night parties, hookups and friend reunions for the best – Olympic medals and legacy. 

Phelps noted that not everyone is ready to give up on social life. Not everyone has to give up their social life because they want to live with a different perspective. Michael wanted to have a significant legacy, and swimming was his success tool. The Olympian admitted that training every day could be boring and tiring on most days, but that’s the life of a champion. If you are willing to take a risk, go all in just like Michael.

Watch video HERE.

Trash talk as a fuel

The Gold medalist knows that he has to be very silent in the pool. Michael admitted that he is getting silent when he enters the training. He noted that trash talking about others is not his cup of tea. At the same time, Michael admitted that he loves hearing people talking trash about him. Phelps loves stories when people trash talk and drag him down with absurd reasons. Swimmer said that he could use trash talk as a fuel to work harder and get better results. 

Focused only on himself

Michael Phelps is focused only on himself. When it comes to achieving goals, the swimmer knows that he has to fight against his weaknesses. Michael said that he is trying to improve his weaknesses every day in the swimming pool. “I’m always staying in my lane,” said Michael, who believes that working on improvement is way better than focusing on the weaknesses of an opponent. 

The Olympic winner says that he loves focusing on himself. If he wants to achieve something, it depends on his work ethic. There is one way to success – focus on you  and create a better self. Michael Phelps said that he can’t control how other people act in different situations – he can control his actions and path. So, that’s why he worried about his actions and daily habits – it worked well in the end.

New Snow Collections From Oakley

With temperatures dropping, travel restrictions being lifted, and cooler destinations preparing for an influx of visitors while being COVID-19 safe, many snowboarders and ski junkies are looking for new pieces to invest in. With frightful temperatures and the need for gear to support intense athletic performances, investing in the right collection is paramount. For the most dedicated winter athletes, Oakley is an excellent choice for cold-weather attire.

Today, Oakley launches two all-new snow collections to get snowboards and skiers ready for the upcoming season. The Thermonuclear Protection Collection draws inspiration from the brand’s heritage in motorsports, while the Team Collection garners influence from professional Norwegian Olympic snowboarder Stale Sandbech and his life of travel and adventure. Both collections strive to combine style and performance.

About the Thermonuclear Protection Collection: 

The TNP Collection fuses provocative colors, bold designs, and daring styles for those looking to make a statement on the mountain. All of the looks are sure to grab attention, especially in context of the stark winter surroundings. The collection includes a variety of outerwear and accessories designed with reflective properties, hi-tech fabrics and modern silhouettes, available for both men and women. Full TNP

About the Team Collection:

Inspired by Stale’s adventures all over the world, the Team Collection features men’s pieces that can easily transition from mountain gear to streetwear. The range can be adapted for the “on-the-go” lifestyle through modular layering and includes outerwear with premium stretch fabrics, goggles, a helmet and two pieces made from 100% recycled material. Overall, the collection strives to be dedicated to a more eco-friendly approach.

Stale Sandbech is a famed Norwegian snowboarder. He participated in the 2010, 2014, and 2018 Winter Olympics and won a silver medal in Men’s slopestyle in 2014 at the Sochi Olympics. With his Olympics debut in 2010, Sandbech became the youngest Norwegian Olympian in 82 years. His partnership with Oakley reflects his on the go lifestyle as he adventures and trains.

Oakley, Inc. based in California is a subsidiary of the Italian corporate giant Luxottica based in Milan. Found in 1975, it began in the garage of James Jannard with an initial investment of just $300. The company designs, develops, and manufactures sports performance equipment as well as lifestyle pieces, with the new snow collections falling into the former category. Yet, typical to Oakley the pieces retain a stylish flare.

Most famous for their sunglasses, Oakley also counts sports visors, ski/snowboard goggles, watches, apparel, backpacks, shoes, optical frames, and other accessories. A vast majority of the designs are completed in house, with Oakley currently holding an impressive number of patents, over 850.

Alya Alghamdi photo credits to Casey Withers used by 360 Magazine

Alya Alghamdi’s Sprint To Her Dreams

By Alya Alghamdi

Every fire begins with a single flame — mine was ignited with the thought of freedom. Growing up, I always knew there was something more for me. My sisters and I would talk often about what we wanted to be when we matured. They would mention their dreams to have a family and own a house, and I would simply reply, “I want to be on top of the world!”

Despite having a privileged childhood in Saudi Arabia, I longed for a life far beyond what material goods could provide because my fulfillment came from a deeper place — a place of purpose. As I grew, the flame burning inside spread like wildfire, consuming me. I knew my purpose was to burn bright, but the world in which I existed sought to extinguish that. It became clear that my journey to live as my true self would not be an easy one. Still, I decided at an early age that instead of letting my circumstances hold me back, I would redefine them to reflect the reality I wanted to live in.

At that time, I had no idea I would one day pursue athletics professionally. My potential as an athlete went untapped for many years due to the fact that Saudi Arabia did not allow women to go to the gym or join sports teams. It was simply unacceptable for a female to participate in any kind of physical activity. Still, this couldn’t and wouldn’t stop me from dreaming, hoping and impatiently waiting.

Foregoing the arranged marriage that is expected of Saudi Arabian women, I made the unfortunate discovery that my best chance at gaining freedom would come at the expense of leaving my family and my home. Still, I was determined to keep my fire burning, so I left for Europe. I chose my destiny to be a free human being, and that came with a lot of losses, but my gains far outweigh those costs.

In Europe, I was able to discover my true passion — running. I spent the majority of my time exploring new physical activities like long distance running, surfing, hiking and competing in marathons. The simple freedom of putting on your shoes in the morning and doing whatever you wanted to do was a completely new concept to me and I promised myself I would never take it for granted.

Staying true to my childhood pipe dreams and capitalizing on my new found freedom, I set my sights on making it to the top of the world – Mount Everest. This was one of the most difficult but rewarding things I have ever done, and it was just as treacherous, unwelcoming, and life-changing as one would imagine. By definition, the environment was inhospitable. Temperatures were below freezing, there was no running water and any water packed for the trip was frozen still. When you are placed in such a life-threatening position, suddenly, all you can think about is how much you want to live. That trip really opened my eyes to what was truly important in life — love and passion. For some people, they find those things in raising a child, but for me, I found it in my sport.

It was not long after my return from Mount Everest that Saudi Arabia’s Olympic Committee extended an invitation for me to take part in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Physically I had reached the top of the world, but professionally, the Olympics became my new Mount Everest. Working with Olympic royalty Michael Johnson, I dedicated my entire life to training, thinking, dreaming and speaking only of the Olympics. Then, three weeks out from the games, my offer to compete was rescinded by Saudi Arabia due to a culturally based decision that had nothing to do with my ability as an athlete. This was earth-shattering for me. I had dedicated everything to training for this opportunity, to represent my country and make them proud, and in a flash, it was gone! I spiraled into a depression and my soul felt hollow where my fire used to burn.

My coach saw the internal anguish and he told me I was left with only two choices — go home or try again. With my options laid bare, the outcome became increasingly clear. I knew this was not the end of my Olympic journey and my fire once again started to burn. Picking up right where I left off, I trained vigorously for the 2020 Olympics, breaking the record for the 60-meter dash. I am also working toward breaking the 100 and 200-meter, which I am confident I can achieve with my abilities, as well as coach’s confidence in me. But my dreams becoming a reality were once again postponed, this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I now have my sights set on carrying my country’s flag at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

However, to be clear, the Olympics are not my endgame. Once the games are in my rearview, I plan on starting a mentorship program and non-profit foundation for young Saudi Arabian female athletes to provide them with the support and resources I did not have during my training journey. Ultimately, I’m not here to break a record, I’m here to show women they can accomplish anything, even with just a single flame.

Follow Alya Alghamdi: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Kaelen Felix illustrates Japanese flag for 360 Magazine

Japan’s Political Future Increasingly Murky

By Elle Grant

In a surprising turn of events, Japan’s current era of politics has come to an end following the sudden resignation of Shinzo Abe, the country’s longest serving prime minister. Abe attributes his step-down due to serious health issues related to colitis, a chronic intestinal disease

His departure leaves the highest-ranking political position in the third-largest economy in the world with an open seat. The scramble for who will replace Shinzo Abe has begun, and its importance cannot be understated.

The next prime minister of Japan inherits a host of serious issues including coronavirus relief response, a decreasing economy, an aging population, an increasingly aggressive China, the confusion of the Olympics, female rights, the complexities of potentially reintroducing militarization, a changing United States dynamic, and more. “It makes me wonder why anybody would want to be prime minister,” said Jeffrey Hornung, an analyst at the RAND Corporation.

In considering relations with the United States, Mr. Abe aspired towards a more independent Japan. His term can be considered a success in some regards, but whether that is attributed to Mr. Abe or to a United States shrinking from international engagement under President Trump is up for debate. Either way, Japan in recent years has worked to assert itself in Eastern politics, especially in comparison to potential rivals in South Kora and especially China. These efforts will become increasingly important as Japan navigates the highest public debt amongst advanced industrial economies at a staggering 251.91%

Despite all these issues, there is a host of men clamoring for the job. They include Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister; Toshimitsu Motegi, the current foreign minister; Taro Kono, the current defense minister; Shigeru Ishiba and Tomomi Inada, both former defense ministers; and Seiko Noda, a member of the lower house of Parliament. Ms. Inada and Ms. Noda, both women, are the only female candidates attempting to throw their hat into the ring. However, Japanese politics remains male dominated and the likelihood of a female prime minister remains slim. Odds are in favor of Abe’s top aide, Yoshihide Suga replacing him.

Shinzo Abe’s successor will be voted on September 14th with a Liberal Democratic Party election, with the Diet (Japan’s national parliament) formally electing the winner two days later. The winner will the serve the rest of Abe’s term until September 2021 and after may choose to run for prime minister for their own term.

Allison Christensen Illustrates a Sports Article for 360 MAGAZINE

2020 Summer Olympics

by Justin Lyons

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are following the old show business gospel of “the show must go on.”

John Coates, vice president of the International Olympic Committee, spoke with AFP to say the Olympics would indeed begin in July 2021, whether COVID-19 is still around or not.

The summer games were originally scheduled to take place this summer, but complications from COVID-19 delayed them until next year.

Coates said the next Olympiad will be “the Games that conquered COVID.”

According to BBC, chief executive of the Tokyo Games Toshiro Muto also said it was possible for a limited audience to be in attendance and wanted to avoid having no spectators.

BBC also reported that Muto said a vaccine was not necessary for the games to go on.

Sports were warmly welcomed back in the United States in July, and the National Football League will return this week. Though basketball, baseball and hockey are finishing their seasons without fans, plan for fans in football stadiums remain tentative.

Fans around the country will have their eyes on the situation, and we obviously hope to see fans cheering on their home countries next year in one of the most unifying events in the world if conditions so permit.

Running illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

On Athletics Club (OAC)

On, the fastest growing running brand in the U.S., has announced the debut of its first professional run crew, the On Athletics Club (OAC). Coached by Dathan Ritzenhein, the inaugural roster includes Joe Klecker, Alicia Monson, Leah Falland (O’Connor), Emily Oren, Alicja Konieczek, Carlos Villarreal, Oliver Hoare and George Beamish.

Based in Boulder, Colorado, the team collectively holds two International Gold Medals, 22 NCAA National Titles, 29 NCAA Conference Titles and 43 All-American Honors. Three-time U.S Olympian and NCAA title-holder, Dathan Ritzenhein, will take the helm as the coach of OAC. After recently retiring from competition, Ritzenhein will help build an infrastructure for the club’s ongoing recruitment and developmental program.

“We’ve selected some of the finest athletes in our inaugural roster for the On Athletics Club, including national and international record-holders,” says Olivier Bernhard, On Co-Founder. “Our world-class, founding members include a multi-national group of top ranked athletes from the NCAA who have proven to be among the best in their field. 

Under the tutelage and leadership of our professional management team, OAC is committed to supporting talented and disciplined individuals in their quest to become champions in their sport.  We are excited to announce this significant milestone for our first residential program in talent development that will also bring some unique and exciting content for track fans to follow.”

All eight athletes will be based full-time at the OAC training facility in Boulder, Colorado and will train to compete in national and international competitions throughout the world. On’s Global Sports Marketing Manager, Steve DeKoker, and two-time U.S. Olympian and On’s Sports Marketing Specialist, Andrew Wheating, will join Ritzenhein in managing OAC operations.

Over the next ten months, the OAC team will have their sights set on the Olympic Games in Tokyo for individual representation of their respective nations. The mission for OAC remains to develop and support a group of talented and disciplined individuals in their quest to become champions in their sport.

On August 10, OAC will reveal its Draft Day video production. Created to bring a light-hearted approach to the selection process, the show will spotlight each athlete in a satirical fashion. Draft Day will be hosted by Ryan Fenton, a longstanding figure in the sport and podcast co-host of “Beneath the Grandstands,” and Alex Lohr, one of the best known voices in professional track in the United States.

OAC Founding Member Athletes: 

  • Joe Klecker: University of Colorado graduate, bona fide All-American athlete, PAC-12 Champion, 7-time All -American and 2-time NCAA runner-up in cross country. 
  • Alicia Monson: University of Wisconsin graduate, NCAA indoor 5,000m Champion, Milrose Games Champion and Big Ten record holder in 3,000m.
  • Leah Falland (O’Connor): Michigan State University graduate, captain of the 2014 NCAA Cross Country national championship team and winner of over a dozen Big Ten championship titles. Personal achievements include two-time NCAA Champion for the indoor mile and 3,000m Steeplechase.
  • Emily Oren: Hillsdale College graduate, nine NCAA national titles, a national force in the 3,000m Steeplechase and a Honda Women’s Collegiate Sports Award recipient.
  • Alicja Konieczek: Native of Poland, Western States College graduate, 9 NCAA Championships, ran for Poland’s IAAF World Championships team in 2019 and was the Summer Universiade Gold Medalist.
  • Carlos Villarreal: Native of Mexico, Gold Medalist at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru, national U-23 Mexican record holder in 1,500m and the first Mexican U-23 to run a mile in under 4 minutes.
  • Oliver “Olli” Hoare: Native of Australia, University of Wisconsin graduate, 1,500m NCAA Champion, eight-time All-American and nine-time Big Ten Champion in Cross Country, indoor and outdoor track.
  • George “Geordie” Beamish: Native of New Zealand, NAU graduate, with personal achievements that include three-time NCAA Cross Country Team Champion and six-time NCAA All-American.

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Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, Davis Phinney and Son

Davis Phinney × Allied Cycleworks

Ex-Pro Cyclist turned artist Taylor Phinney is auctioning a beautiful hand painted Allied Able bike from now – end of July.

Former Olympic cyclist Davis Phinney, his son, National Champion, Taylor Phinney, and Allied Cycleworks have embarked on The Next Stage, coming together with bike industry friends to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson’s, the Davis Phinney Foundation, helping people with Parkinson’s live well TODAY and driving cutting-edge, early-stage quality of life research. Donate here. Learn more about the bike in this video, here.

Follow the Davis Phinney Foundation: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Follow Allied Cycleworks: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, HBO Weight of Gold Michael Phelps

HBO – The Weight of Gold

HBO Sports has acquired North American television and streaming rights to the documentary feature film THE WEIGHT OF GOLD, a revealing and powerful documentary exploring the mental health challenges that Olympic athletes often face in deeply personal detail. The film debuts on HBO, at the same time as the 2020 Summer Games with 11,000 world class athletes in attendance were slated to be competing in Tokyo, Japan. Those athletes, like much of the world’s population, are currently at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The film will be available on HBO and to stream on HBO Max. THE WEIGHT OF GOLD is an HBO Sports presentation of a film by Podium Pictures in association with Octagon. Directed by Brett Rapkin; executive produced by Michael Phelps, Brett Rapkin, Peter Carlisle and Michael O’Hara Lynch; executive producers for HBO, Peter Nelson and Bentley Weiner; produced by Ellyn Vander Wyden; supervising producer, Jonathan Crystal; edited by James Pilott; narrated by Michael Phelps; music composed by Simon TaufiQue. The sale of the project was handled by Kyell Thomas, Octagon’s Managing Director of Entertainment.

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. In THE WEIGHT OF GOLD, Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete of all-time, shares his account of his struggle, along with other high-profile Olympic athletes including Jeremy Bloom, Lolo Jones, Gracie Gold, Bode Miller, Shaun White, Sasha Cohen, David Boudia, Katie Uhlaender, and, posthumously, Steven Holcomb and Jeret “Speedy” Peterson as shared by his mother, Linda Peterson.

This documentary is being released at a critical moment for the millions in society who struggle with mental health – an issue greatly exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The film spotlights Olympic athletes, a group that has long quietly battled its own mental health crisis and is now grappling with the unprecedented postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games and all its implications. The film seeks to inspire the discussion of mental health, encourage help-seeking behavior, and highlight the need for readily available help and support.

“As we all cope during this time of anxiety, Michael Phelps and the Olympic athletes of this film are courageously leading a movement for greater mental health awareness, giving a vulnerable look into the emotional costs of exceptional athleticism,” said Peter Nelson, Executive Vice President of HBO Sports. “When Podium Pictures and Octagon brought us this project, we quickly recognized its power along with the relatability of its theme for so many.”

“I believe I have experienced a state of depression after every Olympics I competed in,” said Phelps. “For a long time, I only saw myself as a swimmer, not a person. When I walked off the podium in Rio, I knew many of my teammates and competitors were not aware of, or prepared for – the post-Olympic transition. In sharing our stories, it is my hope that we can encourage others to open up, let them know they are not alone and that it’s ok to not be ok. For me, the opportunity to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and potentially save a life is way more meaningful than any Olympic medal.”

“Making documentaries always provides the opportunity to learn about your subject along the way,” said director Brett Rapkin. “Unfortunately, this particular project involved unexpectedly learning about a serious mental health crisis that I was not previously aware of: Post-Olympic Depression. The current global health crisis has only brought more urgency to finding ways to reduce the stigma of seeking help and provide excellent mental health resources for not only Olympians but everyone.”

For Phelps, the film is an extremely personal pursuit. When the Olympic legend came out of retirement for the 2016 Summer Olympics, it was in many ways his way of conquering the demons of post-Olympic depression that had engulfed him following his previous departure from competition. In the years since, he’s dedicated the next phase of his life to becoming an advocate for the awareness of mental health struggles.

“At the elite level, performance is everything and the narrowness of an athlete’s focus becomes easily justified, if not essential,” said Peter Carlisle, Phelps’ longtime agent and Octagon’s Managing Director of Olympics and Action Sports. “The imbalance that results often makes the transition to life outside of sport extremely difficult for many of these athletes. Their powerful stories reveal the pitfalls of pursuing success to the exclusion of all else and demonstrate the importance of mental health education and resources in sports and in everyday life.”

The film chronicles the uniqueness of the lives of Olympic athletes, beginning at very young ages, and the demands of their pursuit of the pinnacle in their sports. The rewards are no doubt tremendous, but the mental costs – in the wake of both failure and success – can also be very real, as detailed by the stories of some of the most recognizable Olympic names of the last few generations.

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