Michael Phelps to Star in HBO Documentary ‘The Weight of Gold’ Alongside Diver David Boudia & Others

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Michael Phelps - Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

23-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps will narrate and co-executive produce a new HBO documentary titled The Weight of Gold, which details the mental health challenges that Olympic athletes often face. Diver David Boudia will also serve a voice on the film. The documentary will be available for streaming on HBO Max starting July 29, during the time the Tokyo Olympic Games were set to take place before COVID-19 caused everything to move back a year.

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David Boudia. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Phelps will serve as narrator of the documentary and will share his struggles along with other high-profile Olympic athletes including Jeremy Bloom, Lolo Jones, Gracie Gold, Bode Miller, Shaun White, Sasha Cohen, David Boudia, Katie Uhlaender, and, posthumously, Steven Holcomb and Jeret “Speedy” Peterson as shared by his mother, Linda Peterson, according to an HBO Press Release.

“The film chronicles the uniqueness of the lives of Olympic athletes, beginning at very young ages, and the demands of their pursuit of the pinnacle in their sports,” HBO said in a release. “The rewards are no doubt tremendous, but the mental costs – in the wake of both failure and success – can also very real, as detailed by the stories of some of the most recognizable Olympic names of the last few generations.”

“As we all cope during this time of anxiety, Michael Phelps and the Olympic athletes of this film are courageously leading a movement for greater mental health awareness, giving a vulnerable look into the emotional costs of exceptional athleticism,” said Peter Nelson, Executive Vice President of HBO Sports. “When Podium Pictures and Octagon brought us this project, we quickly recognized its power along with the relatability of its theme for so many.”

“I believe I have experienced a state of depression after every Olympics I competed in,” said Phelps. “For a long time, I only saw myself as a swimmer, not a person. When I walked off the podium in Rio, I knew many of my teammates and competitors were not aware of, or prepared for – the post-Olympic transition. In sharing our stories, it is my hope that we can encourage others to open up, let them know they are not alone and that it’s ok to not be ok. For me, the opportunity to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and potentially save a life is way more meaningful than any Olympic medal.”

Michael Phelps has been very open about his mental health struggles, serving as a spokesperson for TalkSpace and has also received awards for his advocacy in ending the stigma towards mental health. Since the Olympic Games were pushed back a whole year, Phelps expressed concern that it could lead to an increase in athlete suicides.

In an interview with NBC Sports in March, Phelps said:

“I really, really hope we don’t see an increase in athlete suicide rates because of this. Because the mental health component is by far the biggest thing here. This postponement is uncharted waters. We’ve never seen this before. It was the right decision, but it breaks my heart for the athletes.”

“Your whole life is pointed toward this moment,” Michael Phelps told NBC. “And then this huge curveball. `Nope, you’ve got to wait another year.’ If this had happened to me, I would be completely flipping out at the uncertainty. I mean, speechless. Like, is this a bad dream?”

“All of this is so hard to wrap your head around. I just feel really badly for all the athletes who have made it this far. On the one hand, I’m relieved that they’re getting another year, and rightfully so. But the waiting also makes it a lot more difficult.”

Phelps will serve as an executive producer for The Weight of Gold alongside director Brett Rapkin, long-time agent Peter Carlisle, and Michael O’Hara Lynch.

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