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Athlete support for Biles reflects growing awareness of mental health

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Gymnast Simone Biles was flooded with messages of support from fellow athletes after she pulled out of two events at the Tokyo Games citing mental health, a sign of how awareness of emotional well-being has dramatically shifted in recent years.

Added on the 28/07/2021 13:55:36 - Copyright : France 24 EN

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  • Simone Biles prioritizes mental health over Olympic gymnastics competition

    A day after six-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles removed herself from the team final, the American gymnastics superstar withdrew from all-around competition to focus on her mental well-being. USA Gymnastics said Biles will be evaluated daily before deciding if she will participate in next week's individual events. In Tokyo, Biles qualified for the finals on all four apparatuses, something she didn't even do during her five-medal haul in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Keith Parry, Deputy Head of Department of Sport & Events Management at Bournemouth University, points out that "some of these athletes are under immense pressure ... but during the current pandemic it's gotten even worse." Mr. Parry describes the incredibly harsh conditions that pushed a number of Olympic athletes to completely withdraw from competition: "They've got no support there. There's no friends, no family. It's been described as the strictest, most restricted sporting event ever, and that was by the head of the IOC." Mr. Parry does expect Simone Biles to return to the world stage, as will other Olympians who had to bow out due to these "unprecedented times." Looking ahead, Mr. Parry is noticing a "shift in society and in sport that means that we are not going to ostracize an athlete for speaking up or even for protesting". Moving forward, he envisions better conditions in the sports world. "We're (already) starting to see it being much more acceptable to discuss mental health and the problems that were having, or for athletes around the world to speak up when we've been faced with discrimination or abuse." Mr. Parry would like to remind us that "this is not just a sport issue, it's a wider societal issue." Athletes are, first and foremost, human beings, and they are in a privileged position to raise awareness and foster change. "The pressure we're putting on athletes, celebrities, and the discrimination that people are faced with, is broad and is part of society unfortunately."

    29/07/2021 - France 24 EN
  • Tokyo Olympics: Biles says 'put mental health first' after withdrawing

    Superstar gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of a second event to protect her mental health on Wednesday, putting the spotlight on athletes' wellbeing at a Tokyo Olympics held under strict rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Tulio Barbosa, Sport and Performance Psychology Consultant, answer to FRANCE 24's questions.

    28/07/2021 - France 24 EN
  • Gymnast Biles's Olympics in doubt after second pull-out over mental health

    US superstar Simone Biles pulled out of a second Tokyo Olympics gymnastics competition to protect her mental health on Wednesday, raising serious doubt over her participation in the rest of the Games.

    28/07/2021 - France 24 EN
  • 'Mental health' behind Biles' shock Olympic exit

    Simone Biles says it's important to "put mental health first" after her shock withdrawal from the team final, with the superstar gymnast's participation in the rest of the Tokyo Olympics now plunged into uncertainty.

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