Olympic legends address importance of mental health in sports at Laureus Forum

Olympic greats Edwin Moses, Li Xiaopeng and Yang Yang spoke about the importance of mental health among athletes' across the world at the Laureus Sport for Good Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum.

This is the 20th anniversary of the prestigious Laureus Award which celebrates the best in the world of sport.

Olympic greats spoke about the need for a collective effort to help athletes across the globe to tackle mental health crisis.   -  Getty Images

A group of global sporting stars have come together at the inaugural Laureus Sport for Good Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum even to underline how sport can play to reverse the global mental health crisis among young people.

Some of the sporting greats at the three-day online event were: Athletics legend Edwin Moses, Gymanstics great Li Xiaopeng, China's first winter Olympics gold-medallist Yang Yang, South African swimming stars Cameron van der Burgh, Natalie du Toit, rugby stars Sean Fitzpatrick, Nolli Waterman and surfing legend Garrett McNamara.

The international field was joined by Laureus Hong Kong Ambassadors Lee Lai Shan, Wong Kam Po, Malina Ngai Man Lin, Alex Fong Lik Sun, top fencer Vivian Kong and swimmer Yvette Kong for the inaugural EACT Jockey Club Active Community Programme: Laureus Sport for Good Mental Health and Wellbeing through Sport Regional Forum.

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Throughout the three-day Forum, participants heard how Covid-19 has had a catastrophic impact on the mental health and well-being of young people all over the world, as a result of lockdowns, restrictions and the loss of social interaction, sport and wider opportunities for self-development. 

The event also discussed the transformational mental health and wellbeing benefits of sport and how it is building resilience and tackling depression and anxiety in young people in Northern Ireland.

Laureus Academy Member Edwin Moses said that sport is the perfect tool to support young people with mental health challenges.

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"At the highest level, the mental side of sport is crucial, but of most importance is the role sport can play in supporting young people with mental health challenges. At Laureus, the research is proving that the work we are supporting is making a difference to the mental health and wellbeing of disadvantaged young people, and we need to keep that up," the two-time Olympic champion in 400m hurdles said.

All Blacks rugby great and Laureus Academy Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick said: "If there’s one thing we should all take away from this event, it’s that we need to keep moving forward, keep these conversations going and keep changing young lives for the better."

Yang Yang, who won 500m short track speed skating gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics, said: “Working together, sharing knowledge and continuing the conversations we have had over these three days is going to be so important in us using sport to help build resilience and confidence in our young people.”