Narrated and produced by 23-time gold medalist Michael Phelps, who freely discusses his personal struggles exterior the pool, the one-hour movie focuses on the extreme coaching that Olympians undertake — to the exclusion of just about every part else — and the perhaps-inevitable void left as soon as the highlight fades.
“No person who’s going to expend that type of effort, to attain that type of objective, goes to be similar to everyone else,” the swimming nice suggests, citing the repercussions of the “slim and intense” deal with Olympic perfection.
The potential fallout from that, a number of former Olympians say, is melancholy and, for some, suicidal ideas, even amongst those that obtain their Olympic goals and parlay that right into a excessive media profile and endorsements.
As velocity skater Apolo Ohno notes, there is a value related to athletes being so dedicated to their sport that “every part else is secondary,” with the distinction between Wheaties-box success and utter failure (that’s, failing to medal) typically separated by a fraction of a second.
Snowboarder Shaun White is proven joking with then-latenight host David Letterman, in stark distinction to the “unbelievable crash” he discusses experiencing emotionally after the Olympics.
Directed by Brett Rapkin, “The Weight of Gold” speaks to quite a few athletes and comes away with a number of recurring themes. They embrace the sacrifice to at least one’s childhood, in some respects mirroring one other latest HBO presentation, “Showbiz Children,” detailing the toll on those that pursued a special type of fame.
The true level of this train hinges on breaking via the silence and disgrace that Olympians can undergo — inclined as they’ve traditionally been to quietly endure their lows — and by extension, share that message with anybody who would possibly grapple with melancholy.
“Athletes simply do not speak about our weaknesses,” says two-sport star Lolo Jones. “We’re robust.”
“The Weight of Gold” opens and closes by acknowledging the absence of this yr’s Olympics, which is able to doubtless solely heighten demand for the occasion, both subsequent yr (as is at present hoped) or past.
But whereas the Olympics have at all times been the final word image of triumph — the proper embodiment of “The fun of victory,” as “Broad World of Sports activities” famously put it, and Phelps exemplified — he and his friends deserve monumental credit score for sharing their personal agonies, a stark reminder of the darkish clouds that may go along with gold, silver or bronze.
“The Weight of Gold” premieres July 29 at 9 p.m. on HBO. Like CNN, HBO is a unit of WarnerMedia.