The Weight of Gold (2020) Poster

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ptsd'ers when active sport become post mortem
ops-5253530 July 2020
This may be the dooropener that every athlete in the world that every athlete should have or should have had in their years of active sporting. its a documentary on mental health issues in the top level of executing sports on top level, or olympian level, or as the layman journalist often say'' the proffesionals'' in sporting, and how life turns out when stepping down or retirement from the sport is a fact.

and the fact is that many people really hits headless into a brick wall when everyday life begins. ive been doing swimming, on a pretty tough level nationally with 22-30 hours of practice pr week, and i was far from talented and not birthgiven the genes and bodytype to become a great swimmer, but i did do it. when i quit swimming due to studies and work to make a living i didnt become depressed, but i lost a lot of friends, and became extremely introvert and more and more isolated due to that, loosing confidence, and as time went by i became more frustrated and despaired than depressed.

my conclusion have, as years have passed by, is that athletes, especially athletes on top level in individual sports are extremely nerdy, maybe the nerdiest of all humankind, and to be nerdy is often caused by some kind of latent mental health issues. im an old grumpy man today, married with children and grandchildren, none doing sports, actually they hate the thought of competing(maybe from their mothers side). but these day when children are detected by the environment of kindergarden and schools showing signs of , and /or being diagnosed with mental health issues, i have concluded and have been supported by school mates and sports friends in later years that i must've been an ad/hd'er and extreme OCD'er when growing up, keeping my symptoms under cotrol by practicing till fatigue made me sleep, and my life was completely automatized into wake up,eat train,school, eat, train, homework ,eat and sleep in a neverending clockwork of never letting the guards down. so imagine was i the only one being like that??

i guess serious athletes do have a loose screw inside ones temples, and should really be taken cared of and asked by their coaches and surroundings, how do you do today, every day as long as sports are the only thing that matters in life. mental readyness for later life experiences can be better managed if talked over during the active years.

its a good and comprehensive documentary, that actually couldve been even better if based on more factual findings, but the stories told by phelps and others are gutwrenching, and almost had me crying when R.I.P to those who couldnt manage life anymore, and take care to all the rest of the worlds retiree's thats still alive and kicking. its a big grumpy recommend.
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A cry for help from Olympic athletes past and present
paul-allaer30 July 2020
"The Weight of Gold" (2020 release; 60 min.) is a documentary about the mental health issues that Olympian athletes past and present have been and are struggling with. As the movie opens, we see aerial footage of Tokyo, where the 2020 Olympics should be taking place at this very minute but of course have been postponed until next year due to COVID-19. The coronavirus has impacted many people's mental health, including athletes. Micheal Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete in history, comments "I've been thinking about mental health issues a lot lately." We then go back in time and hear Michael, age 15, talk about his ambition to win gold at the Athens Olympics. Likewise from other athletes like Apolo Ohno, Shaun White, Sasha Cohen, etc "I didn't develop any outside interests, comments Cohen. "I was driven by a fear of failure", observes Ohno. At this point we are less than 10 min. into the documentary.

Couple of comments: this is the latest from long-time sports documentarian Brett Rapkin. Here he looks at what Olympic athletes go through to try and reach the top, and at what cost it comes, both physically and mentally. Please note that Michael Phelps is credited as Executive Producer, and also does the narration (in addition to being featured prominently). What is absolutely remarkable is how so many of them bring a similar narrative: basically being left to their own devices, even after repeated cries for help to the US Olympic Team, which appears to simply not care one way or another. Sadly for some athletes it became too much to bear. For those that did make it, such as Michael Phelps and Sasha Cohen (both in their mid-30s now), there is a great awareness and recognition that "it's okay not to be okay" and that the stigma of mental health issues among Olympic athletes needs to be talked about openly.

"The Weight of Gold" premiered this week on HBO and is now available on HBO On Demand, Amazon Instant Video and other streaming services. If you have any interest in mental health issues or simply how life for Olympic athletes is not always roses and sunshine, I'd readily suggest you check this out and draw your own conclusion.
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Not bad but missed the bigger picture
It's not exclusive to Olympic caliber athletes- any successful athlete-be it football, baseball, basketball, bowling, etc., to get to a level of top tier performances, when the end comes, you're left with a whole lot of nothing.

For that matter, top level scientists, researchers, academics, etc., to get to that level, you have to be singularly focused on a goal that consumes you whole.

The higher you climb in your particular field, the farther you find yourself plummeting when the end of that particular road ceases to exist. The key to success in most cases is to develop interests and friendships outside your area of expertise, away from those people and things that are hanging around solely due to your successes. The hard part is, finding those things and people because the person is so focused on the outcome they're not realizing how vital those things are until it's too late.

We are in desperate need of mental health care for all, not just olympians. We have homeless vets living on the streets facing the exact same crises of the mind that these Olympians face-the inevitability that what was your entire life is now over and coping with everyday life is an impediment.
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Michael Phelps - Unimaginative efforts!
maanikroda22 September 2020
It's a concept that makes plenty of sense with the minimum of consideration (seriously, just think about how hard it must be to be an Olympic-caliber athlete), but the doc's talking heads - particularly Ohno, Gold, Miller, Cohen, and of course Phelps - offer such raw and honest insight into their own struggles that it removes any doubt as to why people so physically adept might have problems in other spaces. From Miller's searing indictment of the media to Ohno's insights into what it really feels like to be driven to attain gold at any cost, "The Weight of Gold" at least doesn't skimp on its most basic of messages.

But by the time it pushes into its messy, often emotional second half, those messages become far less easy to follow. While "The Weight of Gold" is, on its surface, about mental health in the Olympics community, its final act only hedges up against what it might actually be about, what it really should be about: the rising numbers of Olympians taking (or attempting) their own lives. It's not about mental health in a broad way, it's about suicide in a very immediate way.

This key change, complete with some of the most emotional scenes the documentary has to offer (and with much of it told through a dispassionate and unimaginative talking head format, that's not an easy ask), temporarily pushes "The Weight of Gold" into bold territory. There are surprises (many of them wrenching) and there are confessions that absolutely sting (Gold, again, offers some of the doc's most important commentary), and even the necessary implication that the Olympic Federation (like so many other sports organizations) has wholly failed its members.

But to what end? Neutered into an hour-long quick hit, "The Weight of Gold" can only approach its heaviest, most daring matters at its end, one that can't even lodge enough time to imagine a space in which they are treated with the care they demand. Just as it starts punching back, the credits roll, another easily digestible bit of broadcast entertainment, just in time to fill the yawning Olympics gap.
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What is going on?!
arojasjr2 August 2020
It's clear we have some issues with our Olympic athletes and their mental health, this documentary clearly shows that. I wish we had seen if this was a global issue and also have there been changes made to help our USA athletes? There seems to be some but it wasn't clearly addressed in the documentary.
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rolbyh200217 November 2021
People often assume that gold medalists are happy and healthy but this documentary does a great job of delving into the mental health struggles many have. It makes perfect sense - a person who's obsessively driven to be THAT good in a sport - would be more prone to anxiety and depression. But then add to that the abrupt life change when all that training and glory ands and real life walks in. Insightful interviews and perspectives, but very sad at times.
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The era of the victim.
biggiebaby19 September 2020
The New America, once a land where with hard work success could be found. Now, standing on the shoulders of previous generations that built a system of a basically easy life with minimum out put. It's not enough to reap millions for selling shoes or a candy bar.... One must have their ego fix by claiming victimhood and getting the sympathy buck. Guess what Snowflake, life is hard.. on everyone. Guess how tough it is on thoes who didn't win the gene lottery.
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The heart, culture, values of a community is what matters
Phelps and company put together an excellent documentary on what really matters in a society - a community that values and supports the building of strong mind, spirit, and body, but also caring for your fellow man. These Olympians need to monetize their efforts. World championships, Olympics, should be done pay per view, with most of the money going to support the athletes, without whom there would be no Olympics. I wouldn't mind paying $100 every 4 years to get around the clock coverage of that 17-day sports extravaganza. Maybe there are a variety of packages that can be created (per day, per sport, etc.). Also, the same could be done with the world championship events that occur every 2 years, etc.. Monetize it, and reward those participating. We're a nation of 330+ million. We waste money in a sordid amount of things. These athletes should be afforded a living stipend for what they do. Obviously, it can't be all athletes, but say the top 200 ranked in each sport? That's about 60,000 tops nationwide. Let them get $50K/year, for 4 years. That's $12 billion over 4 years. 120 million households - that's $100/household every 4 years, or $25/year. Anyway, I'm sure that collectively we could come up with a bevvy of solutions.

***Beware, there are a few truly heart-wrenching moments in this documentary.***
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Over use of music
thai331 July 2020
Very common mistake, if a documentary is any good there id no NEED for excessive music. When it's playing over narration it's distracting, annoying and pointless. I could not watch more that a few minutes before driven away by the racket.
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Good documentary for those who don't know the sacrifices Olympic athletes make
samoanui31 July 2021
Good documentary for those who don't know the sacrifices Olympic athletes make. However, what should be mentioned, is the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs (including steroids) by Olympic athletes. After the Olympics, many athletes cycle off, and this is a very dangerous time, leading to depression and dark thoughts. Seems this documentary aims to spotlight the massive sacrifices Olympians make, and mentioning rampant steroid abuse would somehow tarnish their image. Yet, one should look at rampant steroid abuse as yet another example of the many sacrifices they make -- both when it comes to mental health and also to physical health.
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Allison Schmitt's story would have been more compelling
zxsing-1222027 February 2021
It is clear that Phelps was roped in to headline this because of his name & status. As a swimming enthusiast myself, and having followed the lives & progress of swimmers of the London & Rio Olympics, I thought Allison Schmitt's depression story should have been included. It would make a very compelling tell. The athletes interviews were uneven imho. Some were diplomatic. Lolo Jones' segments gave me the deepest impression. Her accounts were raw, eye-opening and had you wanting more.
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It's ok to not be ok
dorothyboboprg1 August 2020
While we're all missing out on this year's Summer Olympics due to Covid-19, this documentary is well needed.

I never knew there was such a thing as "Olympic Blues" but it makes sense that it would happen.

I hope they can all get the help that is needed. I wonder how the rest of the world deals with mental health for their athletes.

Wonderful documentary; it really makes you think.
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The other side of being an athlete
smurphysteph11 December 2020
This is a great show. Very insightful. I could understand the extreme cost of dedicating your whole like to one sport and the highs and extreme lows that are involved in the process. This is a big problem for our athletes. We need to so much more for them. Highly recommend watching.
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A Cry For Help
emilybrit-320503 August 2020
For those talking about how this documentary is all about Olympians just complaining, do remember that these atheletes won medals and international fame without complain for years and they were children back then, if they want to talk about how that changed them now, we should listen and make sure they get help. I think it was a great tribute to the team mates they lost. You could see how visibly disturbed they were along with the fear and relief of being next.

It had a very home-video vibe, made by a bunch of friends just so everyone can see their point of view especially young atheletes and their parents maybe, simulatenously asking for help themselves.
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Small Percentage of Athletes
tjfherrlich29 July 2021
Some athletes suffer mental health problems while pursuing their dreams. The rest (most) athletes are too busy enjoying the process, struggles, fun that goes along with pursuing their dreams. The absolute BEST place to pursue those dreams is in the USA. Some other countries do not treat failed athletes very well when they return home in defeat. My point is: have gratitude for the opportunities available to train, learn, compete and succeed as a citizen of the greatest FREE country in the world.
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Well done
mleibrock1 August 2020
Despite everyone ripping this, I thought it was a well done documentary.
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