This is the weekly column by Sam Fariss. Her column is titled Run by Women. Each week, Sam will come up with a topic about women’s athletics that interests her, and through her column, we will learn more about the sport.
Anna Cockrell, 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
In column six, Sam Fariss writes aobut Anna Cockrell, the NCAA 100m and 400m hurdle champion and Olympic team member, 400m hurdles. Anna is fighting for mental health care.
Anna Cockrell fighting for mental health care
By Sam Fariss
Anna Cockrell, in just a few months, became an NCAA champion and an Olympian. However, Cockrell is much more than her athletic status. Early in her young track and field career, she began to advocate for mental health care and has not stopped since.
After competing in the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon this past spring Cockrell touched on mental health struggles and depression quite a bit in her post-race interview.
“I don’t know if fighting off depression is the term I would use. It’s not something I will be able to completely banish from my life. I accept it and work through it and care for myself and do what I do to get through it,” she shared.
More and more athletes are stepping up to the challenge of talking about mental health in recent years, and using their platform to advocate for the help of those that struggle with illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Most recently, athletes such as Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka and Kevin Love have discussed their own struggles with mental health issues in interviews or via social media.
Cockrell’s best advice is “Be honest with yourself before anything else. My first step of advice is to find care and to stick with it… It isn’t always easy but it’s worth it.”
Following her third place finish -behind only Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad – at the USATF Olympic Trials this year, Cockrell continued the conversation.
“I got to a point in 2018, 2019 where I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this anymore… During COVID, rediscovering my love for the sport is what has gotten me through this whole season. I’m here because I love it, because I’m good at it. I love it but it’s not what defines me,” she said.
Now, Cockrell is taking a break from media interviews and being in the limelight in order to take care of herself and privately process the past few months of her young career.