Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Former Paralympic Champion Josef Craig awarded Honorary Fellowship

By Kris Jepson

The former Paralympic Champion swimmer Josef Craig MBE has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship at the University of Sunderland.

The 22-year-old from Jarrow, South Tyneside, who also won a Bronze in the Rio Paralympics, has cerebral palsy and has overcome depression since retiring from the sport.

He told ITV News Tyne Tees he hopes this honour will help "raise awareness of athletes' mental health".

Watch @krisjepson's report here:

Josef Craig shot to fame during the London 2012 Paralympics when he became Team GB’s youngest Gold medal winner.

Branded a national hero, he won Gold in the 400m freestyle.

A year later he was awarded an MBE by the Queen for services to swimming. It was a moment he described as a "career highlight".

Josef Craig Credit: ITV News

In 2016 he was back in action after reclassifying to compete against swimmers with more mobility at the Rio Paralympics.

A solid performance saw him win Bronze in the 100m freestyle, but in the intervening years, he became depressed.

He said today is important to mark his mental health journey.

I suffered with depression for many, many years and I tried to take my own life on a number, four times. It was a very dark time for my family. I came through that thanks to help from my family. So I want to raise awareness for people in sport that suffer from mental health disorders and problems, because as good as the support is for the general public in terms of mental health, I think there needs to be more done in terms of sporting support for mental health. When I say that’s the biggest battle you can fight, that is the biggest battle you can fight. Trust me. Bigger than any swimming competition I’ve been in. Bigger than this, bigger than the gold medal, anything.

– Josef Craig