Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Biles says mental health problems began before Olympics



Biles says mental health problems began before Olympics

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Simone Biles (right) is congratulated by USA’s Sunisa Lee at the end of the artistic gymnastics women’s balance beam final of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on August 3. AFP

Biles says mental health problems began before Olympics

Simone Biles said on Monday the mental health concerns that led to her dramatic withdrawal from several events at the Tokyo Olympics had begun before she even arrived in Japan.

The US gymnastics superstar caused a sensation at the Olympics last month after pulling out of the team final competition before later withdrawing from the individual all-around competition.

Biles, 24, regarded by many as the greatest gymnast of all time and who had been strongly tipped to win multiple gold medals in Japan, said she had withdrawn in order to prioritise her mental health.

In a video conversation with her mother released by sponsors Athleta on Monday, Biles said her problems had built up over time.

“I wouldn’t even say it started in Tokyo. I feel like it was probably a little bit deeper-rooted than that,” Biles said.

“I think it was just the stress factor. It kind of built up over time, and my body and my mind just said no. But even I didn’t know I was going through it until it just happened.”

Biles was plagued by an attack of the “twisties” in Tokyo – a potentially dangerous phenomenon that causes gymnasts to lose their sense of direction when in the air. She later returned to the Olympic arena to compete in the balance beam final, where she won a bronze.

Biles said while she was disappointed not to be able to deliver her usual gravity-defying form on the biggest stage of all – she had no regrets about putting her health and safety first.

“It just sucks. Like, train five years, it doesn’t go the way you wanted,” Biles said in the video. “But I know that I helped a lot of people and athletes speak out about mental health and saying no. Because I knew I couldn’t go out there and compete. I knew I was going to get hurt.”

Biles added she had been surprised by the broadly supportive reaction to her withdrawal from competition in Tokyo.

“I obviously was expecting to feel a lot of backlash and embarrassment,” she said. “But it’s the complete opposite. That’s the first time I felt human. Besides Simone Biles, I was Simone, and people kind of respected that.”

The Texan said she hopes now her case will encourage others to ask for help if they are concerned about their mental health.

“I know it’s not easy, but it really is helpful,” she said. “And I know most of the time you’re scared you might feel dumb. But as I have learned over the years, it’s OK to ask for help.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro