Gracie Gold is ready for her comeback.
In a new interview with the New York Times, the 24-year-old figure skater opened up about the great strides she has made following the mental health struggles that led her to withdraw from competition two years ago.
“I was worried what people were going to say or think,” Gold told the Times of having to rebuild her career after speaking out about her mental health battle. “I don’t want to say there were double-takes, but there were eyes on me, for sure.”
Gold — a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist — announced she was taking a break from figure skating in 2017 to receive treatment for depression, anxiety and an eating disorder.
Over the last year, the figure skater has worked on regaining her strength to complete spins and landings on the ice. During her training, the skater also revealed that she lost 40 Lbs.
“I don’t think people realized how bad it was,” she previously told PEOPLE about her struggle and how she was healing. “If I could help anyone, even one person in any way, then it’s all worth it, right?”
After withdrawing from the 2019 U.S. National Championships and another competition in Russia, Gold is now planning to enter the 2020 U.S. National Championships in North Carolina in January.
To keep her expectations in check, the skater said she is more focused on the progress she is making, rather than the final results.
“I feel like in the sport of skating, comebacks don’t happen that much because to go through the process and some of the ridicule that comes with it at first is hard,” she told the Times. “You’re essentially being criticized by the judges, by the fans, by your coach and by yourself. That can be a lot.”
Gold continued, “My ability to bounce back from [bad days] is faster.”
Now, in a much better place after seeking treatment, the athlete has a different outlook on life — placing the importance of her health over skating. Gold explained that while she looks forward to making a full comeback on the ice, her health comes first.
“I can always retire at any moment and go back to school or work full time,” she told the Times. “[Skating] is not the end of the world like I used to kind of feel like it was.”
She added, “My goal is to maintain my mental health while making progress on the ice.”
Far past the national championships next month, Gold is hoping to once again take to the ice as an Olympian at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“I don’t know that many other skaters that know they’re out of shape, that know they don’t look like a figure skater and know that it might not go well and still do it, still try,” she said. “There’s some bravery in that. Years ago, I would have never been able to do that.”