The cyclist, 31, who won gold and silver medals at London 2012, resorted to cutting her arm with a pair of nail scissors during a confrontation with her coach Jan van Eijden over her relationship with Scott Gardner, a member of the British cycling coaching staff.
Years earlier, she first cut herself with a Swiss Army knife while struggling to cope with the loneliness of training in Switzerland.
She told of how she overcame her demons – including a troubled relationship with her father – to become one of the most successful British women athletes of all time, winning three Olympic medals.
In her memoirs, published in the Sunday Times, she wrote: “I did not sit down and decide, consciously, to cut myself. It was almost as if, instead, I slipped into a trance.
“I held the Swiss Army knife in my right hand, feeling the solid weight, as if it promised something beyond the empty ache inside me.”
So tomorrow it’s back to reality. Will we wake up in a different country: one that is sadder, but somehow reassuringly familiar? I confess I was not, to put it mildly, an enthusiast for the idea of having the Games in London. This was primarily because, as a commuter, I was convinced that the city’s infrastructure – which breaks down roughly every 20 minutes under normal rush hour conditions – could not possibly cope with the pressure.
What I had not anticipated was that the spectacularly effective campaign of advance warnings and threats to London’s travelling public would cause so much of its working population to abandon the capital. Thus the evacuation of traditionally depressive, harassed, exhausted Londoners made way for the arrival of a lot of rather sweet, smiley people who turned the city into a very jolly and, momentarily, carefree place.
The greatest Olympics of all time came towards a perfect end last night as Mo Farah won his second gold of the London Games.
He was hailed as the greatest runner ever to compete for Britain, as yet another packed stadium crowd of 80,000 roared him across the line after 5,000 metres.
They had screamed and cheered and stood for Farah from the very beginning, when the slender man who was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, came walking into the stadium with his fellow competitors.
He came to Britain at the age of nine, unable to speak a word of English.
Now, Farah was wearing the running vest of Team GB, and there was no doubt of the intense, sincere affection felt for this 29-year-old man as he bounced on his heels on the starting line.
If the Jamaican succeeds in defending the Olympic title he won in Beijing, he will be the first man ever to win back-to-back golds at both 100m and 200m.
On Wednesday evening, Bolt eased into the final with characteristic nonchalance, giving a playful military salute to the 80,000 crowd before the start of his semifinal race.
He won the semifinal almost at a canter, visibly relaxing in the second half of the race but still coming home first ahead of Anaso Jobodwana.
The South African had to run a personal best to come even close to a champion very obviously stopping short of top gear.
Because Bolt chose to preserve his energy in the semis, his time of 20.18s was only the fifth-fastest of the eight qualifying sprinters.
Hmm. It was difficult to know quite what to believe with good old Usain Bolt since the next thing we saw were the pictures he had apparently posted of himself on Twitter celebrating with a bevy of beauties at 3am in the Olympic Village.
Yet one thing was for certain; while the rest of the world was telling him that his legendary status was already secured after he had successfully defended his 100 metres title in 9.63 sec, Bolt quickly countered that if we wanted a discussion about that, then we should all reconvene after the 200 m, the heats of which take place around Tuesday lunchtime.
“The 100m is just one step in the door,” said Bolt. “But now there’s the 200 m. I have to defend this one too; that’s what’s going to make me a legend. I’m looking forward to it.”
Because if we thought Sunday showcased him back to his matchless best, Bolt’s thrilled and chilled demeanour threw up the tantalising possibility that, with the only thing lacking on that wonderful Sunday night being another world record, then perhaps he could oblige London by delivering another landmark in his favourite event.
Bolt, who declared his intention to achieve legendary status by winning a third successive Olympic 100 metres final in Rio in 2016, said his normal routine had been disrupted by the myriad rules imposed by organisers of the Games in London.
He said: “There are a lot of rules, oh my God. You can’t do anything. I was coming and wanted to bring my tablets in and they said I couldn’t. I asked why. It is just a rule.
“I had my skipping rope in my bag and they said I can’t bring it in. Why? It is just a rule. What if I need to take a rubber band inside to stretch? I can’t take it inside because it is a rule.
“It is just very small rules that don’t make any sense to me. [Before the 100m final] the guy was telling us to line up. We were about to race and we were being told to stand in a straight line. It is kind of weird.”
Bolt went on to stress his admiration for Great Britain and said he had been enjoying life in the Olympic village.
Great Britain enjoyed their most successful day at an Olympics in 104 years by winning six gold medals on day eight of the London Games.
(“I am so shocked I can’t believe it. I’m going to savour the moment.” Jessica Ennis)
Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah capped a historic day – the best ever for GB athletics – by winning the heptathlon, long jump and 10,000m in front of 80,000 jubilant spectators at the Olympic Stadium.
The rowers had started the celebrations with gold in the men’s four and the women’s lightweight double sculls before the women’s team pursuiters added track cycling gold in the London Velodrome.
Saturday’s series of successes keep the host nation third in the medals table with 14 golds, behind the United States and China.
Britain has now won 29 medals overall, having also taken seven silvers and eight bronzes at these Games.
Ennis had dominated the heptathlon from the start, leading her rivals after the four events on day one.