Mental health over Olympic Games

Teagan Mclennan, Journalist

Muscles are not the only thing to be strained in the Olympics. Simone Biles made history at this year’s event, by prioritizing her mental health over her achievements. 

As a community, the world has seen mental health awareness increase as time passes, but how will Biles’s story affect it? 

In the 2020 Olympics, people welcomed Biles as she started competing in her second games. However, the world was shocked to learn that she withdrew. Biles experienced a  key mental struggle of gymnastics, known as the ‘twisties,’ which is a hindering in the ability to know where your body is in the air. Biles knew that without her mental health, her physical health was in danger. 

After leaving the competition, Biles was able to find a silver lining in the situation. She told AP news, “I gave an outlet for athletes to speak up about their mental health.” As seen, many athletes in the public eye feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. 

Even some local athletes agree. Tarina Lonquist, a gymnast for roughly 14 years and now a part of the Fruita Monument Cheer team, says that she too can “sometimes feel overwhelmed.”

During competitions, gymnasts are put under pressure of getting as near a perfect score. Lonquist states that her coaches and judges put “a lot of stress on her (mind) and her body.” Lonquist talks about her many struggles and multiple hours of practice per day, attempting to please her coaches as she works towards the goal of perfection. As this becomes her routine, she realizes just how damaging it is. Lonquist explained that “the mindset of being hard on myself spread to being a student and at work.”

Lonquist hopes that Biles’s actions will bring light to the mental health struggles that athletes go through. She also hopes that other athletes will chime in, aiding other sports’ struggles.

Another athlete recently showed how important mental health is, Naomi Osaka, pulling out of the French Open and The Olympics, after saying that she would be fined 15,000 dollars for not participating in the press conferences. Noami is only twenty three years old, already ranked as the 19th best tennis player. Osaka has experienced many hateful comments while not attending press conferences. According to Women’s Health Magazine articles were accusing “her of reneging on her contractual responsibilities,” as well as being called a “diva.”

Osaka dropped out of her tournament due to anxiety.. Osaka has been praised by many different people and sponsors, including Nike and Serena Williams, another tennis player. Support has followed in her footsteps, allowing more and more athletes and people to learn the importance of mental health.

Biles’s and Osaka’s actions have helped to bring to light the importance of mental health with all athletes. Looking to see that each athlete has time to take to themselves and focus on themselves mentally, would help reduce the consequences of mental strains.