Olympians past and present remain shocked and saddened that Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles has bowed out of the 2021 Olympics because says she is stressed out and needs to focus on her mental health.
Team USA was in position to win the gold medal in the women’s gymnastics competition when Biles, who appeared to have injured herself, clarified what really happened.
“Whenever you get in a high-stress situation, you kind of freak out,” said Biles tearfully during a press conference in Tokyo. “I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being.”
While much of the sports world continues to speculate on Biles’s physical and mental health, Dominique Dawes, the first African-American woman to win a gold medal, applauded Biles courage
Dawes said she can relate to the pressure that gymnasts and other athletes endure.
“She needs to do what is best for Simone,” Dawes said. “At the end of the day, she is the one who has to live her life. I went through that the whole time in my career — tears, being kicked out of practice and not wanting to return to practice. But we did what we were told.”
Rochelle Stevens, a two-time medalist agrees with Dawes’s observations.
“Simone made the right decision to step down because as athletes we are told it’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent,” Stevens said.
Besides the daily regimen of training, Stevens said “she had sponsorship, speaking engagements, and the added pressure of dealing with finding an open gym because of COVID-19.
Darla Davenport Powell, CEO of Greater Works LLC, a multimedia children’s edutainment company, said while many young people watch the glamour associated with the Olympics, there are also challenges that go unnoticed.
“Body image is a mental picture of self that begins in the mind and not in the mirror,” Powell said. “We get messages as to how we should feel about our bodies from both internal and external factors. In the Olympics and all parts of society, we must collectively work to shatter the one-size-, one-race- [ethnicity], one-gender-fits-all myth and make room at the table for everyone to participate.”
Editor’s Note: In 1980, Luci Collins became the first Black female to make an Olympics team and served as a forerunner to Dominique Dawes (1996), Gabby Douglass (2012) and Simone Biles (2016).

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Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

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