Gymnasts Are Supporting Simone Biles' Decision To Prioritize Her Mental Health

Laurie Hernandez, Biles' former teammate, said that she felt "unfair" being under so much pressure to lead the team to gold. "This team is made up of four people, not one."Gregory Bull / AP Simone Biles departs a medical station at the Tokyo artistic gymnastics women’s final on July 27, in Tokyo.Simone Biles is a gymnast who has broken records for strength and skill, but Tuesday's decision to place mental health before competition shows that she is still making a difference in the sport.Due to mental health concerns, the US's most decorated gymnast pulled out of the finals of women's gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics. Although she may still compete in individual rounds, the 24-year old told reporters that her focus was on her mental health and not negatively impacting her fellow gymnasts by a poor performance in the team event. "I knew the girls would do an absolutely fantastic job and I didn’t want to risk my team winning a medal for my mistakes, because they’ve worked too hard for that. Biles stated that she decided that the girls should go on to the next round of competition.Ex-Team USA gymnasts now support her decision. "I feel sick. It's horrible," Aly Raisman (Biles' former teammate in 2016 Olympics) said on Today in response to the pressure placed on Biles to perform as well as possible. Biles' quest for six gold medals was the most talked about campaign leading up to the Tokyo Games. Just one day before she was eliminated from the team final, Biles posted an Instagram message saying that she felt the "weight" of the world on her shoulders. Raisman spoke out about her teammate, saying that she knows all athletes have dreams of this moment their entire lives. "I'm obviously so worried, and I just hope Simone is okay."Aly Raisman talks about Simone Biles being out of gymnastics team finals Twitter: @TODAYshowRaisman said that she was concerned about Biles' "mental impact" from stress. She said, "It's just too much pressure."She said that Biles suffers from pain and stress like all human beings, despite media attention to her remarkable performances. Raisman stated that her decision highlights the difficulty faced by gymnasts, and it can be difficult to remember this when competitors like Biles make it seem so easy. Raisman stated that spectators may overlook the mental strength behind Biles' displays of physical power in a sport where athletes get rewarded for their gravity defying feats. She said, "I think people forget sometimes that we're humans." Raisman was one her teammates in raising awareness about Larry Nassar (ex-gymnastics doctor) who was sentenced to life in 2018 for sex abuse of young athletes for many decades. Steven Ungerleider who is on the executive board at the International Paralympic Committee, said that the pain shared by the gymnastics community in the aftermath of Nassar’s conviction must have been "very difficult" for Biles. BuzzFeed News reported that Biles isn't just focused on being the best athlete in the world, but she also puts on a diplomat suit to talk about politics. That's overload for any athlete, at any age. Ungerleider stated that the COVID-19 epidemic has caused mental health problems in many athletes, as they had to postpone competitions, change their training schedules and rethink their coaching. He said that being thrown back in a competition can cause stress and create new feelings. According to Suzanne Potts of Athletes For Hope, "We don't really know how many Olympic athletes struggle with mental illness due to the stigma surrounding mental health in sports." BuzzFeed News reported that Suzanne Potts was the director at Athletes For Hope. "We know that 1/5 adults have problems with their mental health. It is likely that elite athletes are more affected."Simone, youve made us so proud. We are proud of you as an athlete, friend and person. We are proud of your decision to put mental health first and offer the support and resources of Team USA as you travel the future. Twitter: @USOPC_CEOSarah Hirshland (CEO of the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee) expressed support for Biles by tweeting, "You've made us so proud." She said, "Proud to be who you are as an individual, teammate, and athlete." We applaud you for putting mental health first and we offer the full support of Team USA as you travel the future.Laurie Hernandez, another US gymnast said that she also understood the choice of her former teammate given the pressure to win. She said, "It's unfair to place so much pressure on her to lead the team to gold. "This team is four people, not one." Biles' strengths were "like a safety blanket" when she was part of the 2016 Olympics team. Hernandez spoke out about counting on Biles' success to lead the team to gold. "I know she is the best, but it is horrifying." She also referred to the pressure that Biles' three teammates, Suni Lee and Grace McCallum, felt after her withdrawal.We need to discuss the pressure these three women are under. What an amazing bar rotation! It was absolutely smashed. And jordan? Okay miss underdog, show them what you can do on Twitter: @LaurieHernandez