“I Knew I Was Going to Get Hurt,” Simone Biles Reflects on Her Withdrawal From Tokyo Olympics 2020

Published 08/31/2021, 10:12 AM EDT
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Women’s Team – Final – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Simone Biles of the United States during the Women’s Team Final REUTERS/Mike Blake


Tokyo Olympics 2020 was extremely mentally taxing for athletes around the world. Gymnastics legend Simone Biles also withdrew from the competition because of the pressure affecting her mental health.

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While the inevitable aim of athletes is to reach the Olympic podium, Biles shed light on a systemic issue. The mental health issues of athletes are now gaining a lot more attention after Biles’s decision to withdraw.

Simone Biles listened to her body at Tokyo Olympics 2020

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Simone Biles was competing in a team event at the mega-event. She flew into the air, aiming for the perfect landing, but things did not go as expected. Up in the air, Biles realized something was off.

After her Rio Olympics 2016 glory, Biles came to defend her titles in Tokyo. Not just one, but four titles at the games. After 2016, she rigorously prepared for the Olympics, hoping to reach the podium.

Everything was in place until her mental health issues kicked in. Rather than getting disheartened, Biles accepted what her body wanted and withdrew mid-match.

In conversation with Athleta, she talked about how she took a step back rather than getting hurt. Interestingly, she was interviewed by her own mother.

Biles said, “My body and my mind just said no. Like even I did not know until I was going through it until it just happened. It just sucks. Train for five years and it doesn’t goes the way you wanted. Because I knew that I couldn’t go out there and compete. Like, I knew I was going to get hurt.”

Naomi Osaka and Simone are inspirations for athletes

Tennis star Naomi Osaka opted out of press conferences to safeguard her mental health. Osaka’s step was a big one, as she needed a break from the media scrutiny.

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Osaka is an inspiration for athletes that it’s okay to take a step back. They may take a day off, even on big-match days, because of their mental health. A lot goes on in an athlete’s life behind the scenes, which doesn’t come in the eyes of the public.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Tennis – Women’s Singles – Round 2 – Ariake Tennis Park – Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Naomi Osaka of Japan celebrates after winning her second round match against Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland REUTERS/Mike Segar

Osaka even sent Simone a heartwarming message after her withdrawal from Tokyo. Simone and Naomi both want athletes to listen to their minds and prioritize enjoying the game.

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These two brave women are indeed changing the sports world by being the advocates of mental health. And the support and sensitivity these two have received is a preview of the world shifting towards a better place for the athletes.

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Shreya Verma

186 articles

Shreya Verma is an NBA and Tennis Author at EssentiallySports. A graduate of Political Science, Shreya comes from a strong sports background. A professional 10m air pistol shooter, Shreya is also a tennis enthusiast.

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