Mental health will be a top priority for Simone Biles after Olympics postponement

Mental health will be a top priority for Simone Biles after Olympics postponement

Simone Biles

2020 was shaping up to be a top year for Simone Biles. The Tokyo Olympics were coming and she was a heavy favourite for gold.

Widely regarded as the most decorated gymnast of all time, male or female, Biles is such a spectacular athlete that some of the skills she has mastered are so difficult, other gymnasts do not even attempt them. Especially in a competition setting.

The 23-year-old  was interviewed on NBC’s Today Show last week, where she said she was training in the gym when she heard the news the 2020 Olympics had been postponed due to coronavirus.

At the time, she had been training intensively with the expectation she would be competing in a matter of months. It would be her last Olympics.

Between rotations, she went to the locker rooms to check her phone and received a text with the news.

“I really didn’t know what to feel. I just kind of sat there and I cried but ultimately it was the right decision. We need to make sure everyone in the US and around the world is healthy and safe,” Biles told NBC’s Today Show.

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“It was hard, but it’s OK.”

Biles has little doubt she will be able to maintain her physical fitness over the next year. The biggest challenge will be maintaining her mental health amid all the uncertainty.

“Physically I have no doubt that my coaches will get me back in shape. But mentally going another year, I think that’s what’s going to take a toll on me and all of us and most of the athletes,” she said

“We have to stay in shape mentally just as much as physically. That will play a big factor moving forward, listening to your body and your mind.”

For Biles, the postponement of the Olympics also means she has to continue to work with USA Gymnastics, an organisation she says failed to protect her and her fellow gymnasts from its predatory team doctor and now convicted sex offender, Larry Nassar.

It’s going to make 2020 that much harder for her, especially after she has repeatedly asked for USA Gymnastics to launch an independent investigation into Larry Nassar.

When USA Gymastics wished her a happy birthday via Twitter last month, Biles responded, writing: “how about you amaze me and do the right thing…have an independent investigation.”

She told The Washington Post: “It’s almost as if I feel like, since I have another year, something else is going to go wrong. Or [USAG] is going to do something wrong again,” she said. “Maybe it’s the year for them to get it right.”

Her plans for 2020 now include using FaceTime to keep in contact with her coaches and spending a little more time walking her dog.

“Other than that, they have sent us at-home workouts. I’m also walking my dog a lot more,” she said. “Just trying to stay healthy and in shape before we can return to the gym and start the training process again.”

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