Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bouchard's Eating Disorder No Surprise to Expert in Sports Psychology

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bouchard's Eating Disorder No Surprise to Expert in Sports Psychology

Article excerpt

Bouchard's struggles point to double standard: experts


TORONTO - Eugenie Bouchard's admission that she battled an eating disorder during her precipitous fall in the women's tennis rankings came as no surprise to one former Olympian who now works as a sports psychology consultant to some of Canada's top athletes.

Former elite runner Penny Werthner says female athletes are held to a much different standard than their male counterparts.

"The women athletes are criticized for what they wear, what they look like, whether they're fat or not," said Werthner, also dean of the faculty of kinesiology at the University of Calgary.

"When was the last time someone commented on what (Novak) Djokovic looked like? Or (pointed out that Rafael) Nadal is short?"

Bouchard revealed earlier this week that she suffered from an eating disorder brought on by "a lot of pressure" following her 2014 breakthrough, when she finished the year ranked seventh in the world.

The career-high came after her loss to Petra Kvitova in the Wimbledon final and semifinal appearances at the French Open and Australian Open.

The success that season quickly launched her to tennis superstardom, drawing cameras, media and fans wherever she went.

But the streak didn't last. Her first match after the Wimbledon final was the Rogers Cup in Montreal, where the hometown favourite disappointed with a 6-0, 2-6, 6-0 loss to 113th-ranked qualifier Shelby Rogers.

It didn't get much better as the year wore on -- her ranking plummeted to 48th at the end of 2015.

Bouchard now says last year also featured a private battle to keep food down and maintain her weight.

"Starting 2015, I definitely felt a lot of pressure and expectations from the outside world and myself," Bouchard said.

"I just felt so nervous, it was hard to eat before matches and sometimes at other meals, just hard to keep it down. I didn't try to lose weight, but it definitely happened. It was definitely a cause of the stress. I've learned a lot from it, and I know I just have to force food down my throat even if I feel sick because I am burning so many calories. …

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