Suzy Favor Hamilton's Secret Struggles Despite Success on Track

Part 1: At University of Wisconsin-Madison, Hamilton suffered from body image issues and a crushing anxiety to win.
11:02 | 08/13/16

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Transcript for Suzy Favor Hamilton's Secret Struggles Despite Success on Track
who inspirrt my company, ry of glitz, neon, and secrets. The energy of this place is P palpab palpable. And if it's female companionship with want, Kelly Lundy is the best you can buy. Right over here would be the envelope. She had this power to attract men. And unbelievably, she also has a husband that knows about it all. I can't understand why you were okay with this. She was truly enthusiastic about it. It wasn't a job. Until one day her world came crashing down. She hears this voice saying, Suzy. And Kelly was confused. Because Kelly really was this Suzy. A former athlete, now living a secret double life. Weren't you worried someone would recognize you? They did. Suzy favor-hamilton. From the all-american girl to the whore, overnight. Post-partum depression. A marriage on the rocks. All building to a perfect storm because of a mental disease she didn't know she had. Now, the race of her life, to get back on-track. So many secrets. My life was filled with secrets. And tonight, she's sharing them all. Fast girl. Good evening. It was the fall from grace that exploded in the headlines. The American olympian living a scandalous double life. And you were telling me, nothing was off-limits. Hitting rock-bottom, facing the kinds of issues so many face, but are afraid to talk about. But now in a new memoir, "Fast girl," she's opened up about the race to save her life. When I was a little girl, I would pretend I was a horse. I felt, you know, like a horse galloping through the woods. Reporter: Suzy favor Hamilton has been running for most of her life. Running took me away from every Las veg.as to a wake notice. Watch as she hurtles head-first across the finish line for the win. She was fantastic. She won everything in college. She's a midwestern girl from Wisconsin. Takes over, dominates the women's race. She was it. Reporter: With her parents' proud support, the victories and the trophies keep piling up. I was known for my kick. I could always outkick and outsprint them. You're born with that talent. Either you have it or you don't. Suzy favor wins the battle. Reporter: How did you feel watching her? Proud? Yeah, absolutely. Just -- very proud. It was pretty cool. Reporter: Mark Hamilton, who plays baseball at Wisconsin, begins dating Suzy their freshman year. And as an athlete yourself, in awe of her? A little bit. A little bit. She just never lost. Jones wins second. You did perfect sweetheart. Reporter: But all that perfection had come with a staggering price -- a crushing anxiety to win. The community, my hometown, was all watching me, they were all expecting me to win. Reporter: And that was nothing compared to the pressure Suzy was feeling at home. When I'm racing I'm really focused. I mean, I want to win. Reporter: This ABC news feature from 1990 paints a glowing portrait of Suzy and her family. An old "Saturday evening post" cover comes to life. Reporter: But these images don't reveal the hidden pain afflicting the family. Suzy's brother Dan suffered from bipolar disorder, his behavior was often erratic and frightening. How did that affect the family? It was very difficult. I didn't understand his behavior. Reporter: For years, Suzy believed her success on the track was the one thing that alleviated her parents' suffering. Victory was the only option. Because if I won for my family, everybody would be happy. And we would be perfect. And it would take the pain away from what is happening with my brother. Reporter: What was your drive? Define it. Explain it. My drive was an obsession. So that obsession was to train every day, as hard as I could. And it kept building into bad behaviors. I developed an eating disorder. Because if I was thinner and lighter, I perceived that I would run faster. Reporter: You just paint this picture of such anxiety, secret anxiety and insecurity. Right. Oh my gosh, beyond insecure. You're not happy with your body. Reporter: Those body image issues mushroom when Suzy learns that someone on the athletic staff videotaped her breasts as she ran. It was devastating. It was another reminder, "Your body isn't good enough.hing. Reporter: The question has always been to where? And from what? Stevens point, Wisconsin, in the early 1970s, blessed with prr focusedrivd you, suzngy emerges as a local sports hero. Colleges around the country flock to recruit her. She was recruited by 0 co20egesll That's crazy. That's crazy. I mean, everyone wanted her. Everyone wanted Suzy she was that good. Reporter: She chooses to stay close to home, signing with the university of wisconsi I chose Wisconsin because I feel they have a great coach. Reporter: At Wisconsin, her collegiate career is nothing short of meteoric. Is the heacfresr an yhmr mae dated runner -- Mm-hmm. Reporter: -- In history, in college history. It is a time of hope and optimism. Mark and Suzy get married the week after graduation. And her coach is convinced that olympic glory is in her near future. If she does make the olympic team, she will be a force to be reckoned with. Reporter: As the olympics approach, Suzy is fast becoming a darling of Madison avenue as well as Madison, Wisconsin. For corporate America, the glamorous, bubbly blond was already solid gold. Endorsements from shampoo and shoe companies come quickly. Pump up and air out. So that was putting this extra pressure on. Reporter: To do what, though? To make the next olympic team, and to win a gold medal. Because that's what the companies were banking on. That's what they were paying me, the sponsorships. To get the olympic gold. Reporter: In 1992, Suzy walks into a packed stadium in Barcelona right along side dream teamer magic Johnson. Her moment has arrived but Suzy is not there to meet it. You didn't get any sleep at all before your first olympic run. First olympics, no sleep. To a point of enormous anxiety just building. Reporter: Tough to get yourself in a right frame of mind. Yes. Reporter: To go out there and run the race of your life. Right. Not going to happen. Reporter: And it didn't happen. Yeah, it didn't happen. Reporter: In Barcelona, she didn't even make the finals. But in 1996 there she was in Atlanta for her second go at the gold. Reporter: Did you try and say, "Okay, this time don't -- don't attach so much to this, don't carry the world on your shoulders"? And she wound up just running the 800 meters, which wasn't her best event. Reporter: Once again she doesn't medal. But despite her failures, Suzy continues to rack up the magazine covers and to earn like a champion. And then I started to hear from my critics, other runners, that, "She's getting paid too much, and she's not even running these fast times." Reporter: But the 2000 olympics offer one more chance to prove her doubters wrong. And soon, with mark supporting her all the way, Suzy is back on top, capturing titles in the U.S. And abroad. Then in 1999, tragedy strikes. After years struggling with bipolar disorder, Suzy's brother Dan commits suicide. Suzy was devastated of course. But she wanted to do something, for the family. Make everybody happy. How is she going to rescue things? That's the way she looked at it. She was devastated, but her focus changed quite quickly. Reporter: Determined to win in his honor, Suzy heads to the Sydney games hoping to capture that elusive olympic gold. But the pressure that this woman had on her shoulders, in large part because she was seen as the next great one. At the starting line, I felt the whole entire world was Reporter: You were more voluptuous. I didn't look like the ideal runner. So I had to look that part. Reporter: Later T

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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