Gymnastics GOAT Simone Biles’ Perspective on Mental Health – From Tokyo Olympics Withdrawal to Inspiring Other Athletes

Published 03/21/2023, 11:35 AM EDT

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Ace gymnast, Simone Biles adorned her career with a multitude of accolades. From being the recipient of 7 Olympic medals (four gold, one silver, and two bronze) to framing the Presidential medal of honor on her wall of fame, Biles has covered it all. More so, with her incredible flair, the Olympian made a haven in the hearts of millions and earned a hoard full of fandom across the continents. Nonetheless, the most decorated gymnast in World Championships history, Simone Biles is an inspiring figure and a role model for many – not only because of her commendable finesse on the mat but also because of her moxie to come out and talk about mental health.

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The superstar gymnast stunned the world in 2021 by withdrawing from Tokyo Olympics to take care of her mental health. Following her retreat from the reverent podium, she became the voice of millions who were struggling with mental health challenges and changed the narrative through her fortitude. Let’s take a look at how the G.O.A.T. gymnast spearheaded the world’s collective perspective of mental health.

Biles’s shocking, yet iconic withdrawal during the Tokyo Olympics due to mental health issues

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In 2021, as Biles set foot into Ariake Gymnastics Center for the women’s team final at the Tokyo Olympics, the eyes of the sporting universe got fixated on her. However, on her first attempt at the team final, the Olympian completely lost track of herself in the air as she performed her 1.5 twisting Yurchenko vault, while attempting the 2.5 twisting Amanar vault. “It’s basically life or death. It’s a miracle I landed on my feet…If that was any other person, they would have gone out on a stretcher. As soon as I landed that vault, I went and told my coach“, Biles said of the event. Following this, she decided to withdraw from the all-around competitions and astonished everyone with her decision.

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When asked by the media about the reason behind her withdrawal, the Olympian responded by stating, “To focus on my well-being”. She further added, “There is more to life than just gymnastics”. Since then, Biles became a proponent of mental health by continuing to address avenues that were not being touched before on such a large scale.

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How did fiance Jonathan Owens and other athletes applaud the gymnast’s brave decision?

After pulling out her name from the all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics, Biles received a swarm of support from her fandom. Among her cheerers, the one who took the front seat was none other than NFL safety quarterback, Jonathan Owens. The Houston Texans player took to his Instagram handle to pen a heartfelt message for his fiancee. The NFL superstar wrote, “Imma ride with you through whatever baby. Your strength and courage is unmatched and you inspire me more and more every day SB. You always gonna be my champ baby and don’t you ever forget that. I love you so much and I can’t wait till you come home and I get to see that beautiful smile again”. He ended the caption by writing, “you know I’m always here for you baby”.

Swimming demigod, Michael Phelps also voiced his appreciation for Biles. In an interview with NBC, he said, “Nobody is perfect so yes, it is OK to not be OK” and that “if we’re not taking care of both [physical and mental health], how are we ever expecting it to be 100%?”. Interestingly, the NBA champion and Cleveland Cavaliers player, Kevin Love, also took a moment to hail Biles for her bravery. He shared a post on his social media handle and wrote an unfeigned note for the gymnast. Love penned, “By being open about your struggles, you flip vulnerabilities into victories”. He continued in the caption, “To Simone and others who have openly shared their story…you are helping many. Continue to lean into discomfort and vulnerability. Don’t deny your story – defy the ending”.

More so, tennis legend, Billie Jean King declared that Biles, “showed true leadership in taking herself out of competition in order for her team to have a chance to medal”. Clearly, the sporting world had nothing but kind acclamations for the most decorated gymnast in history.

The impact of Simone Biles’s open mental health discussion on the sporting world

Following her valiant act in 2020, not just the gymnastics world but the whole sporting realm addressed the importance of prioritizing mental agility. After her fearless feat, many came forward to address their mental health issues with the world. Interestingly, in the same year, Jessica Bartley, a psychologist and the director of mental health services for the U.S. Olympics and Paralympic Committee revealed that her team received a multitude of requests from those who were seeking support for mental health needs. “The games are really an incredible opportunity to start to have those conversations”, said Bartley.

Read More: “You Can’t Do This Anymore”: Simone Biles’ Self-Talk Led Her to One of the Most Crucial Decisions of Her Life, Revealed in 2021

Allyson Felix, one of the most decorated track and field athletes hailed Biles by asserting, “With everything that Simone has gone through, I’m really proud of her and the way she is standing up for herself but also making things better for others and bringing a lot to the forefront of these conversations”. Kate Nye, an American weightlifter, and silver medalist at the Tokyo Olympics also came forward to share some of her own struggles. “As someone with bipolar disorder and ADHD, I could definitely relate to the overwhelming nature of the sport: I’m of the opinion that you have to put yourself first. She should have done what was best for her, and she did”.

When the gymnastic GOAT supported top skier Mikaela Shiffrin during the 2022 Beijing Olympics 

During the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, legendary skier Mikaela Shiffrin wasn’t able to put forth her best run at the start of the Slalom races. Following this, she received a surge of criticism from the social media cult for her performances. However, among the rabble of backlashes, one comment stood out, as it came to Shiffrin’s aid from her fellow Olympian, Simone Biles. The gymnast took to her social media handle to pen a heartfelt caption for Shiffrin. Biles wrote, “I know this all too well, I’m sorry you’re experiencing this, people suck…”. In her appreciation post for Shiffrin, Biles further mentioned, “Just remember how AMAZING you are, we’re all cheering for you…Go kick some a** Saturday! But most importantly, embrace the moment. Have fun, love ya!!!”.

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Simone Biles hints at a possible comeback to the mat after a long mental health break

Following her retreat from Tokyo Olympics, Biles has withdrawn from competing in gymnastics events to focus on her mental health. Now, it’s been two years since the gymnast returned to her field of vocation. Nonetheless, in 2022, she pulled off the curtains from the most anticipated question about her comeback and hinted to her fans about her return to the beam.

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She conceded, “you just have to push out those negative views and just keep pushing, I want to see how much I’m capable of, how talented I can be. And that’s why I came back, just to not have any regrets if I look back in 10 years. So now I can really say I have no regrets, but maybe I might push it a little bit more to see”. Though Biles has girded up her lions to make a comeback, it most likely will not be in 2023. However, she might return to defy gravity and make waves among her fans, probably in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Watch This Story – Simone Biles Shows Off Her Support For Jonathan Owens In A Customized Outfit

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Written by:

Purva Jain

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Purva Jain is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Mody University of Science and Technology. Purva is an avid reader and author of 3 books that are published in national and international marketplaces.
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Edited by:

Gideon Mathson

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