New Zealand Paralympics bronze medallist Rory McSweeney reveals battle with depression

Rory McSweeney shows his delight and Kiwi pride after winning the bronze medal in the men's javelin F4.
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Rory McSweeney shows his delight and Kiwi pride after winning the bronze medal in the men's javelin F4.

New Zealand Paralympics star Rory McSweeney has revealed he battled depression during "a crazy journey" towards his Rio bronze medal.

McSweeney has been part of the Kiwi medal rush in Rio, taking third in the men's T42-44 javelin with a throw of 57.32m at his first Paralympics.

The Dunedin 31-year-old posted an emotional message on his Facebook page on Thursday, thanking fans for their support and revealing the mental struggles he had endured over the past 10 years.

"Just want to say a massive thank you to everyone for the amazing support that I have been receiving. It really has been incredibly touching and has made my moment of glory so very special," McSweeney said.

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"I went into competition to throw my heart out for all of my friends and family and hopefully make everyone proud.

"The last decade has been a crazy journey from battling depression and suicide to now becoming a Paralympian. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you to those who believed in me, this is for you!"

McSweeney is a left below-knee amputee from an accident at age three.

He attended a Paralympics New Zealand talent identification programme event in 20098 and hasn't looked back. Dabbling in cycling he switched to javelin and has been on a steady rise, finishing eighth at the 2011 world championships, sixth in 2013 and second last year.

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"It means the world, that was such an amazing experience," McSweeney told TV One of the intense battle for the medals in Rio.

"It was such a tight competition and I can't believe I got a medal for New Zealand. I'm so happy."

McSweeney works as a prosthetic technician at Dunedin's Limb Centre.

He had surgery on his knee to stabilise his kneecap, which allows him to run better and has meant his prosthetic has been realigned.

McSweeney collaborated with prosthetists to get the best solution for his artificial limb, and uses a running blade, a javelin-throwing blade and a walking leg.

WHERE TO GET HELP

Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354

Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757

Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116

Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Youthline (open 24/7) - 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email talk@youthline.co.nz

0800 WHATSUP children's helpline - phone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at www.whatsup.co.nz.

Kidsline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.

Your local Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.


For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812).

 - Stuff

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