ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The most decorated American gymnast, Simone Biles, may not have walked away with the gold in the Olympic gymnastics team competition, but still won the hearts of many Americans by opening about her mental health challenges in these games.
For this reason, she stepped back to take care of herself and support her teammates. News 8’s Alex Love spoke with a University of Rochester Medical Center Sports Psychologist who explained these matters should have been addressed long before Simone came forward.
She rocked the world stage in Rio totaling six medals, four of which were the gold. This time around, Simone Biles, nicknamed “The Goat,” shared she is still human.
“It has been stressful these Olympic games,” Biles stated after Team USA took the silver medal. “I think just as a whole not having an audience, there are a lot of different variables going into it. It has been a long week; it has been a long Olympic process and year.”
Sports Medicine experts around the Rochester area highlight COVID-19’s impact on pushing the games back a year and changing the atmosphere is the drive behind these feelings.
“It is even eerie to watch a little bit having these empty stadiums,” Dr. Craig Cypher, a Sports Psychologist at UR Medicine, noticed. “If you think about the past with gymnastics, you know the flashing lights with the audience. There is an energy athlete feed off that.”
In moments like these Sports, Psychologists explain the smart thing to do is step back and pace yourself through treatment to save your body for future competition.
“Building that level of awareness, I think that’s one of the lessons that Simone knew where she was at and kind of make some decisions,” Dr. Cypher added. “From there about what was going to be best for her. Sometimes athletes let their emotions suddenly overtake them.”
Dr. Cypher adds this can be a teachable moment for athletes and coaches at all levels. He encourages both to always communicate where they are at in their training and not ignore the pressure.
USA Gymnastics said in a statement on Wednesday that the 24-year-old is opting to not compete. The decision comes a day after Biles removed herself from the team final following one rotation because she felt she wasn’t mentally ready.