American gymnast Simone Biles has withdrawn from both the individual all-round competition and the women’s team events at the Tokyo Olympics, citing concerns about her mental health.
USA Gymnastics issued a statement on Twitter supporting her decision –
“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health.
Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals. Jade Carey, who had the ninth highest score in qualifications, will participate in her place in the all-around.
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.”
Speaking to reporters after the decision was announced, Simone Biles said –
“Whenever you get in a high stress situation, you kind of freak out.
I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being. It just sucks when you’re fighting with your own head.”
Whilst wishing Simone Biles a speedy recovery, I would like to applaud her brave decision and thank her on behalf of all the people who, like me struggle with conditions such as anxiety or depression.
She is a star athlete – a champion through and through – and her candour and honesty on the world stage when talking about her mental health will make a big difference to all those who have struggled or are still struggling with similar issues.
The message is clear. There is no shame in facing mental health difficulties. It is not because you are weak or because you did not do your best. Mental Health is a concern for everyone and the time has come to shine a great big bright light on the reality of it all.
The time for skulking in the shadows is over.
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