Kenyan Olympic champion’s struggle with alcoholism

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by bbcafrica

Retired Kenyan athlete Wilfred Bungei has told the BBC about his struggle with alchoholism.

Bungei, who was the 800m gold medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said he had to check into a rehabilitation centre for six weeks after retiring.

“For me I knew, when I started drinking there was no stopping, completely nothing, I don’t go to work, I wake up in the morning and I don’t even eat,” he said.

As an athlete, Bungei had a busy schedule and his days were packed with training. But after retirement he had too much time on his hands.

“When it comes to being an athlete, I never had a social life. I only had 20 days break per year for over 13 years.

“So you see when I retired in 2010 that is when there was a big problem,” he told BBC Sport Africa.

Things got so bad that he missed the birth of his third child because he was drunk.

The Olympic champion would drink through the night and was sometimes found sleeping outside early the next morning.

“I was in a ditch [and ] people actually thought I had died. What was so scary was hallucinations, the darkness comes and I am scared, literally.”

Bungei would start his drinking session intending to take a few shots of vodka only to end up drinking a litre in about 30 minutes.

He has now started encouraging retired athletes to speak out and seek support.

“It makes me happy when I share my story and I know it can be able to save someone that is how I get healed myself,” he said.