Stoner’s anxiety shows sport ‘not as nice as people think’


Earlier this week, Stoner – the 2007 and 2011 MotoGP world champion – told the Gypsy Tales podcast that he battled with anxiety through his racing career, which was only recently officially diagnosed.

Stoner revealed that for much of his racing career, the more successful he was during a weekend, “the more I wanted to die”, as his anxiety badly affected him.

The Australian retired at the end of 2012 aged just 27 having only raced in the premier class for seven years.

Dovizioso – who was team-mates with Stoner at Honda in 2011 – says he was “not too surprised” to hear of Stoner’s plight, as it is something that has affected many a racer.

“Yeah, what every rider feels nobody knows, and every rider lives the race in a completely different way – for many reasons,” RNF Racing rider Dovizioso said in Malaysia on Friday.

“I’m not too surprised because if you follow a lot of stories of the best sportsmen in the world, a lot of them have problems in a different way.

“But this is the pressure of high-pressure sport, or the consequence of family things.

“But everything is on the limit, so every sportsman has a lot of pressure and lives this situation not in as nice a way as everybody thinks most of the time.

“So, I’m not surprised. Every story is different, but I follow a lot of sports and a lot of motocross riders, and a lot of motocross riders retire before 30 and they were winning everything.

“It looks like if you race for 20 years and you won a lot of things, to manage the pressure every year becomes worse and worse for that kind of athlete.

“It’s something that’s a bit strange, but happens many times.

“So, It’s one of the reasons athletes retired still when they are very competitive or have a big contract in hand. But this is the reality.”

Andrea Dovizioso, RNF Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

When asked by Autosport how much social media affects the pressure racers feel now, he added: “For sure the social media now affects much more than in the past.

“I don’t think when Casey had those problems, social media was that important as it is now.

“But it’s all about how important the championship is, how many people follow and it’s related to pressure.

“I think when you win a lot of things and you show how strong you are, this creates a strange situation where you have to be in that mood every time you race.

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“And that I think, for that kind of athlete, becomes difficult.

“It’s almost impossible to stay in that level for a long time, and when you are used to winning and it [starts to] become a bit more difficult, there is some reason, it’s difficult to handle.

“And in my opinion this is why that happens.”

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