top of page

Simone Biles decision - a major win for her and a message to women of colour?

Gymnast Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team finals at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Biles declared that she was feeling “the weight of the world” and needed to focus on her own mental health. Reminding us all that protecting our mental health is as important as our physical well-being.

Simone Biles Olympic Gymnast
Image Credit: Laurence Griffiths, Staff / Getty Images

The weight of the world is too much to carry for the young, 4ft 8 Simone Biles, but at 24 years old, Biles knows what is good for her and has chosen to prioritise herself.

She shows that taking care of herself — particularly her mind — is much more important than landing the next Gold. Her victory, right now, is in self-care.

Biles was expected to dominate the Olympics this year, with her incredible athleticism. But she withdrew from the competition, after stalling in the vault exercise, which she attributed to the “twisties,” a frightening feeling of losing focus midair that can result in serious injury.

Biles said, “I have to focus on my mental health,” acknowledging that she had been struggling with the tremendous pressure she was honest on social media saying she felt the “weight of the world.”

It’s not a popular decision. People often don’t like it when athletes, or any public figure outs themselves first, and Biles’ decision has drawn some criticism.

Simone Biles: Credit Associated Press

The Houston Chronicle quoted “CBS This Morning’s,” Dominique Dawes, who said the #Me Too movement and the Nassar scandal have spurred athletes to openly express what they’ve been experiencing with regard to anxiety, depression and pressure. “I admire Simone Biles more for speaking out and speaking her truth than for her amazing athletic prowess,” she said.

However, AP News reports that Simone Biles’ sponsors, are more positive, applauding her decision to put her mental health first and withdraw from the gymnastics team competition during the Olympics.

It’s the latest example of sponsors praising athletes who are increasingly open about mental health issues. Tennis star Naomi Osaka found widespread support when she withdrew from the French Open earlier this year.

Biles could still compete in other gymnastic events during the Olympics. She also has a solid history of gymnastic accomplishments, including four gold medals and a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics. She has earned five more all-around titles in world championships since 2013. That earns the 24-year-old a lasting athletic legacy that sponsors can capitalize on.

“We are past the time when athletes like Simone are valued simply for their athletic prowess,” said Jim Andrews, founder of A-Mark Partnership Strategies. “She has earned a place in gymnastics history, and has proven herself to be an amazing spokesperson and influencer who has much to offer brands even without competing and eventually in retirement.”

Source: Houston Chronicle & AP News


bottom of page