American Olympic star Simone Biles withdrew from the women's team gymnastics final at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday citing mental health issues. On Wednesday morning, the four-time Olympic gold medallist also announced her decision to pull out of the all-around event.
Following her decision on Tuesday, Biles commented on the tremendous pressure she had been facing as being one of the "stars of the Olympics" and needed to focus on her mental health.
She said he felt like "she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders and was making it look easy until it no longer was"
"We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day we're human, too, We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do," Biles told Biles Associated Press.
The 24-year-old was supposed to execute a Yurchenko vault with two-and-a-half twists in her opening effort, but could perform only one-and-a-half twists. Her knees buckled on the landing although she avoided falling on the ground.
Her score of 13.766 was among the lowest she has got in years following which she consulted her coach and proceeded onto leave the arena for a while.
Earlier this year World No.2 ranked tennis player Naomi Osaka decided to withdraw from Wimbledon and the French Open in order to protect her mental health. Her decision shined a light over the importance of focussing on mental health in the world of sports.
"I do hope that people can relate and understand it's OK to not be OK; and it's OK to talk about it,". There are people that can help, and there is usually light at the end of any tunnel." Osaka wrote in Times Magazine.
Biles said she felt inspired by Osaka's decision and urged those who were struggling to put their needs first.
"Put mental health first, because if you don't, then you're not going to enjoy your sport and you're not going to succeed as much as you want to," she said while speaking to the media after the team event. "So it's OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself, because it shows how strong of a competitor that you really are, rather than just battle through it."
This year due to the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic the circumstances of the Olympics are extremely unusual as the athletes are under more isolation and due to the fact Tokyo is in a state of emergency all spectators have been barred from attending any events which leaves the athletes to perform in empty stadiums.
"It's been really stressful this Olympic Games," Biles said. "Just as a whole, not having an audience, there are a lot of different variables going into it. It's been a long week. It's been a long Olympic process. It's been a long year. So just a lot of different variables, and I think we're just a little bit too stressed out. We should be out here having fun, and sometimes that's not the case."
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