Fans of Louis Smith, who of course won last year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing, will know that he suffers from ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder…
And he’s revealed this week that because of the condition, he was “just one mistake away from losing everything,” but he credits the devotion of his mother for helping him to channel his energies into sport rather than straying into a life of crime.
Louis made his remarks while filming a new Channel 5 documentary about his battle with ADHD, during which the Olympic medallist met with other sufferers whose lives have been horrendously blighted by the disorder.
The film will apparently feature one sufferer who’s serving time for attempted murder, and it seems that it was that segment of the programme that prompted Louis to say, “ADHD has played a major role in my life…
“But I have a mum who was very dedicated, and I loved sport, which gave me discipline.”
To TV Biz he added, “As I got better at gymnastics I realised that I was just one mistake away from losing everything I had worked for.
“I couldn’t afford to get a criminal record.
“I feel very lucky to have had that influence because I met people for this show who’ve gone off track and got into trouble with crime and drugs.”
He added, “Some of the kids I met were in prison, others were wearing tags.
“One lad was just 26, but he had been in prison for ten years for attempted murder.
“I was talking to him and that’s when it really hit home, because he’s a lovely guy.
“But he just didn’t have the support he needed to keep him on the straight and narrow.”
The film, entitled Louis Smith: Living With ADHD, will air this autumn, and in it Louis will reveal that he was diagnosed with ADHD aged just six years old.
He explained, “It was a big relief for mum when she found out I had ADHD.
“She’d realised there was something different about me all along.
“There were lots of people — teachers mainly — telling her, ‘He doesn’t listen, he doesn’t concentrate’.
“It was nice to know there was a reason I was a problem child and I made her life difficult.
“I’m still trying to make it up to her — but when you have ADHD you don’t think, you just act.
“I did things that I shouldn’t have been doing as a child. I remember taking BB guns down to the park and trying to shoot my friends.
“The cars driving by thought they were real guns, so the police came down and took them off us.
“Another time we were throwing snowballs at cars. If that had been a different group, those snowballs could’ve been rocks…
“Or I could’ve been doing something else very illegal.
“The people I met for the show all said they didn’t think about consequences — they just acted. And I can really relate to how that feels.”
“The show was a good opportunity to further the public understanding of ADHD, as well as my own, and help other sufferers.”
He concluded, “As a gymnast I am constantly aware of how I come across.
“I always have to watch what I’m saying and how I’m acting, so that I don’t disrespect anyone.
“I can’t act like I don’t have a care in the world, or make mistakes. I got more aware of that as I got older and more successful…
“I don’t want to get carried away and do something that tarnishes everything.
“I’m a role model and I don’t want to let people down.”
I can’t imagine the lovely Louis would ever let his fans down. He’s a real inspiration isn’t he?
Here’s a look at him talking about – among other things – having ADHD…