Dancing on Ice 2023: Nile Wilson opens up about injury that cost him Team GB gymnastics career
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The former gymnast, 27, from Leeds, shared how his retirement from the sport drove him to addiction.
Nile had just won bronze on the horizontal bar at the 2016 Rio Olympics and within a year had injured himself into early retirement.
He told BBC Three: “I landed on my head quite badly, and that little niggle of neck pain never really went away.”
Nile then required surgery on his spine in 2019, after another injury caused a herniated disk, with the tissue between the bones in the gymnasts spine pushed out of place.
The injury to his spine caused Nile to require how to learn how to walk again and he soon began drinking to numb his pain.
In his TedTalk, Nile also revealed how he began gambling on roulette wheels because he missed the thrill of competing in gymnastics.
After hitting “rock bottom” he then reached out for help and began recovery for his addictions.
Nile is now appearing on Dancing on Ice with his figure skating partner and is also starring on BBC Three’s new show Go Hard or Go Home.
He said: “I’m never going to be able to stop having an addictive nature.
“It was what made me so strong at gymnastics. The process was the same when it comes to drinking and gambling - my attitude was ‘I’ll become the best at that.’”
Nile has previously said that his obsessive nature helped him fight hard when competing and has helped him win multiple achievements, including five gold medals at the Commonwealth games.
Nile admitted that he “rushed” trying to recover, saying: “I had my surgery, which then led to other nerve damage.
“It’s not that I didn’t listen to the doctors. But I certainly rushed my comeback. You want to get back out there and compete again.”
Nile then retired in 2021 and his dreams of becoming ‘the best gymnast in the world’ were shattered and taken away from him.
The former Olympic gymnast said he found his retirement “tough to accept” and that was when his “behaviour started to take a dive”.
Nile revealed following the surgery he was “struggling to walk” and was then taking lots of painkillers as well as drinking to “numb the pain”.
He now runs a successful YouTube channel that has over 1.57 million subscribers and admits that because he’d put himself out so much online, he worried his reputation would be ruined.
Nile realised that the cycle needed to change after he “hit rock bottom” and found help through a therapist and a doctor.
He shared that he knew people that had been through similar experiences that he was able to “lean on”.
After gradually making progress in his recovery he began making physical and mental changes to get better, including joining a self-exclusion scheme that bans him from UK casinos.
The pair have been impressing judges and fans with intricate skates that have been showing off Nile’s gymnastic skills.
Now also appearing on Go Hard or Go Home, Nile has been paired with contestant Carys as he aims to make her more self-reliant and take her out of her comfort zone.