Legendary jockey McCoy recalls his mental health struggles
Retired racing legend AP McCoy has spoken candidly about the daily mental health struggles he faced during his record-breaking career.
The Co Antrim man said he “tortured” himself about achieving success and that since quitting nothing had filled the void of his sporting triumphs.
Sir Anthony, who was champion jockey for 20 consecutive years and had a remarkable 4,385 wins, said in a TV interview that he missed the discipline and purpose of sport.
The 47-year-old from Moneyglass added: “I never did a day’s work in my life. But I was obsessed with what I did.
“I loved getting up in the morning. I loved going racing, thinking, ‘Today’s the day, I’m going to be good today.’”
But AP — who was knighted in 2016 — revealed there was a darker side.
Acknowledging that mental health is a “big thing now”, he added: “Most days of my life — and it’s not something you want to talk about lightly now — I used to think for 20 years I had mental health problems every morning when I woke up because I was never happy, I was never satisfied, I was never content.
“But it’s what drove me. I obviously liked torturing myself. I liked the challenges every day.
“Numbers were what I lived by. Numbers were what kept me going every day. You always want to try to do things that other people hadn’t done.
“Lots of people, I always thought, won Grand Nationals or the big races but when I got up in the morning I wanted to be different.”
AP — who’s now a TV analyst at horse racing meetings — said nothing had filled the void of his jockeying career.
“You can go looking for whatever you want. You could become Jeff Bezos and invent Amazon but it’s not the same as playing at Wembley or a big stadium full of people or winning an Olympic gold medal,” he said.
“Nothing will ever replace it. But I don’t have any regrets.”
AP said his advice to young sportsmen and women of today was to remember they were privileged to be doing what they were doing, adding: “Don’t be making excuses. You can make excuses when it’s all over and you have nothing interesting to do.”
On Soccer AM, the Sky Sports television show, Arsenal fan AP said that in his youth he had dreamt of being a footballer but quickly realised he wasn’t good enough.
He said he started supporting Arsenal as a five-year-old because there were so many Irish players in their team like Pat Jennings, Frank Stapleton, Liam Brady, David O’Leary and Pat Rice.