Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has opened up about his ongoing battle with bulimia in a new BBC One documentary.
The 42-year-old revealed in 2014 that he suffered with the eating disorder during his playing career.
In Freddie Flintoff: Living With Bulimia – to be broadcast on Monday at 21:00 BST – he asks whether he needs professional help for the first time.
“I don’t want to be a statistic,” he said.
“I don’t want it to be read that something has happened to me.”
Experts estimate that at least 1.5 million people in the UK – of which 25% are male – have an eating disorder like bulimia.
Flintoff, who now presents Top Gear, played 79 Tests during an England career that spanned 11 years before his retirement in 2009.
He describes how his struggle with bulimia began when focus was put on his weight during the early part of his international playing days.
“I became known as a fat cricketer,” said Flintoff. “That was horrible. That was when I started doing it.
“That was when I started being sick after meals. Then things started happening for me as a player.”
He also details how he would make himself sick during the iconic 2005 Ashes series against Australia, when his starring role helped England recapture the urn for the first time in 18 years and earned him the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award.
“Everyone was happy with me,” he said. “My weight was coming down. It was like: ‘I’m bossing this.’ It just carried on and I was doing it all the time.”
Flintoff describes how the infamous pedalo incident, when he had to be hauled from the sea after a drinking session during the 2007 World Cup, forced him to evaluate all aspects of his life, including the bulimia.
He also considers the possibility that the eating disorder contributed to the early end to his career – he was only 31 when he played his last Test for England.
Flintoff made a comeback in 2016, playing Twenty20 cricket for Lancashire and Australian side Brisbane Heat.
He also had one fight as a professional boxer before turning his attention to his TV career.
Details of organisations offering information and support with eating disorders or mental health can be found here.
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Source – www.bbc.co.uk