By: Nupur Kudapkar
Simone Biles had no intention of becoming a focal point in the ongoing debate regarding the role mental health plays in all sports. The world seemed startled this summer when the 24-year-old gymnast pulled out of five of the six finals due to a mental block. A mental illness takes control of your mind and body, forcing you to fight a battle with yourself that you believe you can never win. Simone Biles said, “I wouldn’t change anything for the world,” while talking to the Associated Press. “I gave an outlet for athletes to speak up about their mental health and their well-being and learn that you can put yourself first before the athlete.” Something that represents as critical for many athletes, particularly those competing in the Olympics and being separated from their family and friends in the midst of a global pandemic. In fact, the topic will have a spot in her post-Olympic tour starting later this month. According to Biles, it will also feature a part on the significance of taking care of one’s mental health, which will remain conducted by former UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi. Katelyn Ohashi is a former Olympic contender who served as the last person to overcome Biles. She has become mental health advocated and has freely described body shaming and toxic surroundings as a young gymnast. Biles wanted this trip as relatable as possible, to let young gymnasts know what they have gone through. When the news broke out about her dropping some finals, the internet returned with some backlash but also tremendous love and support. It’s one of the reasons she stays excited for the trip, which she feels will persist as different from previous USA Gymnastics post-Olympic tours. Simone Biles agreed to hold the title as the main attraction because she wanted to push the sport in a new direction. She stated that the tour is being conducted by women for the first time. Overall, Simone Biles talking about her mental health has lead to great things in the athletic community.