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Simone Biles Gymnastics Olympics Mental Health

Mental Health Spotlight As Simone Biles Withdraws From Olympics

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SA Gymnastics Olympic champion, Simone Biles, has withdrawn from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, citing mental health concerns.

In a statement, USA Gymnastics said: “After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics, in order to focus on her mental health.”

“Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals…

“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritising her well-being.

“Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many,” the organisation said.

American Olympic legend, Michael Phelps, spoke in support of Biles decision, saying the choice will open doors for athlete mental health discussions.

“I hope this is an eye-opening experience, I really do,” Phelps said.

“I hope this is an opportunity for us to jump on board, and to even blow this mental health thing even more wide open.

“It is so much bigger than we can ever imagine.

“We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders, and it’s challenging especially when we have the lights on us and all of these expectations being thrown on top of us.

“I can say personally, it was something that was very challenging.

“It was hard for me to ask for help.

“But it’s so important, especially to teach kids at a young age to take control of their physical and mental health.

“We’re human beings.

“Nobody is perfect,” he said.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesperson, Mark Adams, said: “What we can all say, regardless of what happened, we have huge respect and support for her.”

On the support the IOC is offering for athletes, Adams said the IOC has ensured there are psychologists in the Athlete Village and a helpline for athletes in 70 different languages.

“Mental health is an incredibly important issue,” Adams said.

“Are we doing enough?

“I hope so, I think so.

“But like everyone else in the world we can do more on this issue,” he said.

Biles decision is the latest of a number of high-profile athletes, after Australian basketball star, Liz Cambage, withdrew ahead of the Tokyo Olympics citing mental health concerns and psychological pressure.

Adding to the list is the withdrawal of tennis star, Naomi Osaka, from the French Open earlier this year due to mental health concerns relating to facing the media during the event.