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Star gymnast and fan favorite Simone Biles chose to take a step back from the US team gymnastics final at the Tokyo Olympics, citing mental health concerns, a decision doctors and other gymnasts have applauded.
“I just felt like it would be a little better to take a step back, work on my mindfulness, and I knew the girls would do an absolutely amazing job, and I didn’t want to risk a medal for the team. . failures, ”Biles said at a press conference Tuesday.
Biles said the Games have been “very stressful,” adding later: “That’s why we have teammates. Because if someone is feeling down, you have to step in, and that is exactly what they did, then kudos to them.
The gymnastics phenomenon had just emerged from shaky floor routine and vault performance.
Biles’ decision was met with overwhelming support from her teammates, who won silver medals, and other Olympic gymnasts.
US gymnast Jordan Chiles, who was forced to take Biles’ place on bars and beam, said: “This medal is definitely for her. Because without it we wouldn’t be where we are now. We wouldn’t be Olympic silver medalists because of who she is as a person. Well done for her, my daughter. It’s all for you. You are part of this team. You deserve it too.
Former Olympic gymnast and Boston resident Aly Raisman told the Today Show, “It’s really tough. It’s so much pressure… everyone in the world is looking at you and admiring you and there isn’t much room for error.
Biles is not the first elite athlete to speak out about his mental health issues.
Naomi Osaka recently retired from Roland Garros after suffering from anxiety and bouts of depression. Michael Phelps, 23-time Olympic gold medalist, also spoke about his experiences with depression and suicide.
Dr Kelly Karl, deputy director of behavioral health services at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Brighton, said open-mindedness can help pave the way for others who wish to seek help or take a break.
“Taking the time to work on yourself, even though it’s on the biggest stage in the world, shows a level of self-awareness and a need for self-reflection that we don’t see a lot,” Karl told the Herald.
Karl said Biles and other athletes like Osaka are good role models for taking care of yourself and knowing your limits.
“It’s important to humanize these amazing athletes because they submit to things that I can’t even imagine,” Karl said.
She added, “As a mental health clinician, we really value people who speak up and give their point of view. “
Biles said she takes it day to day. She could continue to compete for the rest of the Games if she chooses to do so.
Biles encouraged her teammates on Tuesday in an Instagram post that read, “They stepped up when I couldn’t / Thanks for being there and supporting me!” I love you forever.
Herald wire services contributed to this report.