Mental Health


Tiffany Horgan

As Time Magazine’s Sean Gregory perfectly sums up, the sports stoppage has come with “steep costs for those who’ve dedicated their lives in pursuit of victory.”

Since February 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the global sporting community – physically, financially and mentally.

With the cancellation of sporting events big and small, including the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, athletes around the world have had their professional livelihoods completely put-on hold.

In a Stanford University and Strava study released earlier this year, 1 in 5 athletes reported difficulty exercising related to mental health motivation and COVID-19.

Athletes worldwide have become culturally displaced. Whilst some businesses have been able to operate remotely, athletes have been unable to train and compete since February, significantly impacting their athletic status, ability and mental health.


22.5% of professional athletes reported feeling “down or depressed” on more than half of the days in a week since March following the enforcement of COVID-19 related training and competition.

Only 3.9% of professional athletes reported feeling the same struggles pre-pandemic – a 5.8x increase.

These athletes were also 7.1x times more likely to report “little interest in doing things”, a common symptom of depression.


27.9% of athletes reported feeling “nervous/anxious” on more than half of the days of the in a week compared to just 4.7% before COVID-19 restrictions. This is a 5.9x increase.

Moreover, 71% of athletes surveyed worry about receiving financial compensation for the athletic activities during COVID-19 restrictions.

The Usher Cup

Three-time world champion surfer, Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, said mental health was a huge focus during discussions prior to the creation of the Usher Cup. An exciting three-day surfing event showcasing amateur surfers and emerging professionals from 21 board riders’ clubs from Coffs Harbour through to Noosa.

The event couldn’t come any sooner for Aussie surfers, eager to get back out into the water and competitive surfing.

“One thing we’re really aware of is the whole mental health issue,” Rabbit said.

“All these surfers really have nothing to do. The Usher Cup gives them a focus, something to get up and train for in the morning. That’s the fraternity of surfing, we’re like a big family.”

The Usher Cup is being held at Duranbah and Snapper Rocks from the 29th to the 31st January 2021.

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