After a stressful experience as a U.S Olympian, Simone Biles has faced heavy criticism from many as she withdrew from the Olympics to focus on her mental health. Biles faced criticism for stepping down on the world’s largest sporting event. Many lacked compassion and understanding for her decision as they were filled with disappointment. However, I believe it is relevant to note the conversation this situation has brought to light. Athletes endure intense preparation for their performances, often over exerting their bodies with extreme training and conditioning. This pressure on the body simultaneously places exhaustion on the mind. I would ask these critics to place themselves in the mind of Simone Biles and walk in her shoes, or in this case, leotard, and understand the scale of her situation. Biles has to deal with insane expectations as she has been labeled as potentially the greatest gymnast of all time. Every performance, every twist and turn is heavily examined. It must be incredibly burdensome to know the whole world is watching you and is expecting perfection at any given moment.
I am happy to know that although Biles experienced backlash, she experienced a large amount of support from fans and mental health advocates. Many are commending her for bringing a conversation of mental health into light as it is often stigmatized. Biles’ experience is highlighting the importance of mental health within sports as its competitive nature can be toxic. This overflowing support and compassion may explain why Biles is ready to return to the Olympics with the beam final this Tuesday.
USA Gymnastics’ official Twitter account confirmed that Suni Lee and Simone Biles will be performing in the balance beam final. Although critics have used this return to go rampant and debunk her mental health concerns, many are excited to see Simone ready to do what she loves once again. I am excited to tune in this Tuesday and watch exactly why Simone Biles is considered the greatest of all time.