Brittney Griner has been open about her battle with depression since childhood. She was young and had suicidal thoughts. Last year, she left the WNBA bubble as the isolation was too much.
The U.S. women’s basketball team player felt deeply connected to Simone Biles because of her personal struggles. She chose to be a better person than seeking sporting glory. Biles, considered the best gymnast on the planet, pulled out of the team competition mid-event and decided not to defend her 2016 silver medal in the all around Thursday night at Tokyo Games.
“It’s very difficult to make the decision to leave. Griner stated Thursday that this is especially true at the Olympic level. Griner stated that if you aren’t your best, you won’t be the best at your sport or your team’s.
Biles’ decision not to compete in the all around was a day after mental health became a hot topic in sports. Olympians in many sports have spent the past two days coming forward to recount their own battles while offering support to Biles.
After the Americans won silver at the 4×200 freestyle relay, Allison Schmitt, a U.S. swimmer, said that “This Olympic Games had not only a conversation about mental illness but also has movement in the direction of mental support.”
On Thursday, Biles expressed appreciation about the response she’s received, posting on Twitter: “the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.”
Damian Lillard is a Portland Trail Blazers player and a U.S. Men’s Basketball team member. He said that his success and salary don’t mean he’s immune to personal difficulties. Biles’ conversation made him reflect on his own journey during Thursday’s discussion.
“When people talk about depression or how they deal with mental health issues, I sometimes think back to those times and say, “Man, I had some of those moments.” He said, “I just didn’t know that was what was happening.”
Lillard stated that he is careful about what he shares on social media, as it can cause strong emotions to intensify and distort.
Lillard stated that “everyone has access to us” in today’s era. “In the past being a professional athlete, or an Olympian meant you were visible to the world, but everyone couldn’t tweet you and nobody could slander your on Twitter. You become a trending topic on Instagram and people talk about you on there. The Internet wasn’t as powerful.”
Biles received overwhelming support at the Olympics. Social media has shown harsher criticisms. Biles was accused by strangers of being weak and a quitter. They also claimed that her actions in Tokyo have damaged her legacy.
Kirsty, an IOC member who chairs the IOC Athlete’s Commission and a former Olympic swimmer, advises athletes to avoid social media platforms during competition. Coventry stated that some people leave negative comments and can be very hurtful to athletes.
Here are some other discussions about mental health that were held across the Games.
After next week’s final on parallel bars, the three-time U.S. Olympian will be retiring and will continue his plans to go to grad school. Mikulak, who was a gymnast for the majority of his 28-year career, said that he is considering a career in mental health.
Biles said that he spoke to him since Tuesday’s dramatic withdrawal from team competition. She had failed her vault routine, and he recognized that she wasn’t in the right place to continue.
Mikulak stated that she feels like she is doing the best for herself. She is a great example of how to prioritize mental health and make sure everyone understands that we are not just athletes. It’s human nature to be human, sometimes too much. When that happens, you must do your best for yourself.
According to the U.S. women’s soccer player, she meditates twice daily to help her process and decompress. This tool is used year round, whether she is playing in a tournament or not.
Press stated, “I spent a lot time trying to cultivate a self-love-and-care attitude that can help me through stressful times.” We all have baggage and history. It is our responsibility as individuals to care for ourselves and love ourselves first. This can help us to care for each other more beautifully.
The conversations are welcomed by the Irish Olympic golfer. He says they are like other health conversations and should not be stigmatized.
He said, “I’m glad at least the conversation started.” It’s no longer taboo. It’s just as normal to talk about it if someone has an elbow or knee injury. It doesn’t matter if you feel 100% right mentally, it’s an injury.
He acknowledges that the persistent notion of “powering though it” is still prevalent. McIlroy believes that hearing from people such as Michael Phelps and Biles about mental health has a positive impact.
“When the most decorated Olympian ever talks about his struggles and then the greatest gymnast ever speaks about her struggles, it encourages others who have felt the same to share their feelings.”
According to the Brazilian rugby player, her team meets regularly with a psychologist.
Cerullo stated, “We treat our brains the same way as we treat our bodies.” Every international event, particularly the Olympics, comes with its own mental struggles and extra mental weight. Simone Biles, who put her mental health first over everything, is a great example of how mental health can be important for athletes and everyone else. The athletes are only the tip of the iceberg.
Biles’ criticism was unjustified, according to the U.S. beach volleyball player. He acknowledged the immense pressure Biles has had to endure as the Olympic face and her status of being the greatest ever, with “GOAT” sometimes printed on her leotard.
“She has been going to the gym since she was 3. He said that this was her life. “So what is she thinking in her head that she would be willing to withdraw herself from a competition?” That is a shame.