Former U.S. national champion Ben King revealed that he overcame an eating disorder in his teenage years while he was aspiring to become a pro rider. The Dimension Data rider shared his story Wednesday in a video on IAmSecond.com, a non-profit website that “ignites hope and inspires people to live for God and for others.”
King, 28, won the 2010 American national road championships, as well as a stage in the 2016 Amgen Tour of California. He described his struggle with bulimia in a dramatic monologue.
As a high school student, King had a brutal schedule of cycling, school work, and other sports.
“I’d ride in the morning, lift weights in the middle of the day, track practice, go home, cram in my homework, swim practice, and just die in my bed every night.”
After a rocky introduction to European racing when he was 16 years old, King sought ways to improve. Thinking he needed to cut his body weight to go faster, he took an extreme approach.
“One night on the way back from swim practice, I pulled over on the road and opened the door and made myself throw up,” he said. “In this twisted way it gave me a sense of control. It became a habitual thing.
“I was totally beating my body into submission. The thing that I was trying to control was beginning to control me.”
With the cumulative stress of bulimia and training weighing him down, King eventually cracked. He had an argument with his mother and quickly realized how bad things had become. Although the 17-year-old King didn’t admit to his father that he had an eating disorder.
“I was ashamed,” King said. “That’s when I really realized what I was doing not only was hurting myself, dishonoring God, but it was also hurting the people around me, the people that loved me, that cared about me.”
King says he relied on his faith to get his eating disorder under control. He also schooled himself on nutrition to better understand what he needed to perform as an athlete.