Every Olympic Games gives us lessons in humanity. Tokyo 2020 delivered history before the opening torch was lit by being held in another year due to a pandemic postponement.
What has really lit up worldwide discussion however, is the withdrawal of Simone Biles from the US women's team gymnastics competition in Tokyo. The four-time Olympic gold medalist admitted she didn't feel she was in the right frame of mind to compete. With Biles supporting from the sidelines, her team went on to claim silver medals.
Biles eventually withdew from all competition.
Interestingly, the opening ceremony torch-lighting was carried out by none other than tennis prodigy Naomi Osaka, who described the simple act as "undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honour I will ever have in my life".
Osaka has also been public about her struggles, pulling out of the French Open in May and revealing she has been dealing with depression. Disappointingly for her, Osaka lost to former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the third round of the Olympic tennis tournament, which was her return to competition.
So what is going on? How can some of the most determined and disciplined athletes on the planet be struck down by personal anguish at the very point where they should be claiming their greatest achievements?
Given the rise of social media, the increased audience and its little-filtered torrent of critical feedback, there's no doubt pressures on public figures are greater than ever. We now see some are willing to admit this pressure is overwhelming and choose their wellbeing over winning.
Sports fans will get over their disappointment. Athletes, certainly those who have already given so much enjoyment, who step back from the brink of breaking down should be respected and supported.
the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before. 🤍— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) July 29, 2021
Where to get help:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
Or if you need to talk to someone else:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
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• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
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