Athletes across the sports world have signaled their support for Simone Biles after she stepped away from Tuesday’s team competition and Thursday’s individual all-around to focus on her mental health.
"I have to put my pride aside. I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being. That’s why I decided to take a step back,” Biles said. "It's OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself, because it shows how strong of a competitor and person that you really are, rather than just battle through it."
Michelle Carter won the gold in the 2016 Olympics. The Texan said she supports Biles' decision.
“There’s a lot of stress that comes with competing at the Olympic Games. Not only do you want to represent yourself, you’re representing your family, and you’re representing your country. So there’s all this pressure to perform your best not just for yourself but for everybody else,” Carter said. “It’s brave of her to say that on the stage that she’s on. Like, she’s considered the greatest ever but she recognized, ‘OK. I need a moment. For me’.”
Dr. Rebecca Corona is the lead psychologist at Parkland. She said Biles' decision to take a mental health break is a lesson for us all.
“We do need to be able to say when we are not OK, we do need to be able to ask for help when we need it,” Corona said. “It’s great to push yourself in competition and learn from the challenges and successes of competition, but we also have to be mindful of our mental and physical limits too.”
“I actually applaud her and appreciate her for being so open and honest on such a global stage,” Corona said. “She needs to make sure she is safe and she needs to make sure she is in the right mind frame to engage in a sport that can be very dangerous.”
Carter said she respects Biles even more after this mental health break.
“Simone is well respected just because she’s shown up and been herself her whole career,” Carter said. “It was a really big notion to kind of give people a ‘you know what? If she can take a break with the pressure that she’s under, then I know I can too’.”