(Los Angeles) Simone Biles said Monday that the mental health issues she faced at the Tokyo Olympics, which prompted her to drop out of many gymnastics events, began even before she arrived in Japan.
“I wouldn’t even say it started in Tokyo. I feel it might have been a little more grounded than that,” Biles said in a video chat with his mother, posted by one of his sponsors, Athleta, on Monday.
“I think it was just the stress factor. It built up over time, and my body and mind said no. But I didn’t even know I had been through that period until it happened.”
The American gymnast, considered by many to be the best of all time, was the star of the Olympics. But when a medal raid began, it suddenly stopped in the middle of the competition, highlighting the mental health issues that can affect top athletes.
Biles has been the victim of Tokyo’s “flips,” a potentially dangerous phenomenon that causes gymnasts to lose their sense of direction when in the air. After giving up on several events, she ended up competing the last time she was engaged, picking up bronze on the crossbar.
Although visibly disappointed at not being able to express her talent, Biles said she did not regret putting her health and safety first. “It’s just that it’s hard to train for five years right now, and things just don’t go the way you want them to,” she said.
“But I know I helped a lot of people and athletes speak out about mental health and say no. Because I knew I couldn’t go. I knew I was going to hurt myself,” she continued.
“Obviously I was expecting backlash and a lot of embarrassment. But the opposite is true. It was the first time I ever felt like a human being. More than Biles, I was Simon, and people kind of respected that,” Texas said.
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