Mental Health is Wealth
In June, Tennis sensation, Naomi Osaka decided to step away from the game to focus on her mental health. And now, gymnastics star Simone Biles has withdrawn from individual all-around gymnastics competitions at the Tokyo Olympics. The surprising yet necessary decision came after one rotation on the vault. USA gymnastics organization released a statement regarding Biles,"After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics, in order to focus on her mental health. We wholeheartedly support Simone's decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many."
The 24-year-old posted to social media saying she felt like "the weight of the world on her shoulders" Following the medal ceremony, the tennis star said, "Once I came out here [to compete], I was like 'No, mental is not there, so I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself." In her last performance, she visibly gets lost in the air which was a first for the renowned athlete.
The support immediately poured in for Biles. Teammates Jordan Chiles and Sunisa Lee showed their support via Instagram.
Other celebrities such as Taraji P Henson, Nicey Nash, George M Johnson also showed their support via social media for the gymnastics star. Former Los Angles Laker and current power forward for Spain tweeted," All my support yo @Simone_Biles. Mental health is a key component of our health, and it MUST be a priority always. We need the sports world to focus on emotional and mental well-being a lot more. Thank you for using your platform, you're a true champion! #MenalHealth." Former Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps also weighed in, "We're human beings...I felt like I was carrying. as Simone said, the weight of the world on your shoulders...It's a tough situation." In an interview with Michelle Steele, Aly Raisman said, "It's the most pressure I've seen on a gymnast and maybe even Olympic athletes, and I can't imagine how hard it is for her... I can't imagine the bravery that it takes to just say, I'm not going to do it today." Soccer player Landon Donovan tweeted, "Really proud of @Simone_Biles for having the courage to make such a difficult decision. I encourage everyone have compassion for her and try to understand the pressure she was dealing with. She's a human being first and an athlete second. We can all learn from her courage." Media outlets such as WatchtheYard, Essence and MEFeater Magazine all sent their well wishes and support to Simone.
Simone Biles has been vastly transparent about her struggles with the judges scoring during her performances. Judges were intentionally giving her lower scores on difficult moves to discourage other gymnasts from attempting the moves. In 2019 The Women’s Technical Committee stated, “Part of the reason for that might be a concern for the safety of gymnasts not nearly as skilled as Biles — by assigning a dangerous move a low start value, the federation quietly discourages others from risking it. But there also may be a fear that Biles is so good that she might run away with any competition she enters simply by doing a handful of moves that her rivals cannot, or dare not, attempt."
At such a young age, Simone Biles has had to face a great deal of obstacles throughout her career and she has handled each with grace. Sending love and light to one of the greatest athletes of all time.