Black women are prioritizing their mental health and it’s a luxury that we don’t always have.
As a barrier breaker and history maker when it comes to the world of gymnastics, the pressure for Simone Biles to be great on the world stage at the Tokyo Olympics has been at an all-time high.
The 24-year old is already a six-time U.S. all-around champion, including her victory in 2016 where she became the first woman to win four in a row since Joan More Gnat from 1971 to 1974.
She also recently became the first woman ever to attempt the Yurchenko double pike in competition, but now Biles continues to prove just why she is the goat, stepping down from the world stage for the sake of her mental health.
Following the women’s team gymnastics final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Tuesday (July 26), Biles withdrew, noting mental health concerns as she works to protect “her body and mind.”
Following the final, won by the Russia Olympic Committee (ROC), a tearful Biles explained the reason behind her decision.
“Whenever you get in a high-stress situation, you kind of freak out,” she expressed. “I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my mental health and well-being.”
As the world looks to the gymnast to bring home the gold, Biles reiterates the notion that one cannot pour from an empty cup.
“It just sucks when you’re fighting with your own head,” Biles continued. She also shared that the gymnasts competing aren’t just athletes.
“We’re people at the end of the day,” said Biles, who shared that Team USA will have a “mental rest day” tomorrow (July 28).
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According to Biles, the other Team USA members wanted her to continue the competition, but the Gold medalist says that she can not put her mental well-being on the back burner.
“I was like: ‘I think the girls need to do the rest of the competition without me,'” shared Biles. “They were like ‘ I promise you’ll be fine, we watched you warm-up.’ But I said ‘no I know I am going to be fine but I can’t risk a medal for the team and I need to call it.'”
Biles also explained that this isn’t the norm for her.
“You usually don’t hear me say things like that because I usually persevere and push through things, but not to cost the team a medal. So they were like: ‘OK, if Simone says this, we need to take it pretty serious,'” she continued. “I had the correct people around me to do that.”
Her decision comes just as Naomi Osaka, who has vocalized taking time off for her mental health earlier this year, was knocked out of the women’s Olympic tennis tournament.
Just like we champion around both Biles and Osaka when they’re winning and bringing home the gold, we will lift them as a community when they speak out to say that they need to take some time for their mental well-being.
This is not just for the Naomi Osaka’s and Simone Biles’ of the world, but it’s for all of us –take care of home first, everything else can wait.
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