When Simone Biles withdrew from the women’s team competition on Tuesday, the world’s greatest gymnast demonstrated that the heaviest burden of the Olympics is often the expectations of their performance.
Byers said that her mentality was not suitable for performing her famous dangerous tumbling feat, and then decided Unplug Individual all-around finals. In the process, she reopened a global conversation about mental health. The hosting of the Tokyo Olympics during the pandemic—and all related restrictions—intensified performance pressure.
Byers said: “We must protect our minds and bodies, not go there and do what the world wants us to do.”
In addition to surviving sexual abuse, the gymnast had to deal with the five years between the Olympics and the challenge of the pandemic Larry Nassar, A former US gymnastics team doctor. “I’m still struggling with some things,” she said.
The disconnect between body and mind
Byers took the baton from other elite athletes, and they publicly stated that they need to prioritize their mental health. Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from this year’s French Open. Retired American swimmer Michael Phelps is the most successful Olympian in history. He frankly discussed his struggle with depression.
American swimming star Katie Ledecky said: “You will feel that a lot of people are watching you, your every move is being monitored and judged, etc., as we said, we try to ignore It.” Multiple Olympic champions. “The biggest pressure I have is the pressure I put on myself. I have been trying to do my best, better than ever, when your time sets a world record in certain events, it is not easy. “
Byers said that the incoordination between her body and brain was the specific reason for her withdrawal from team competitions. She said that she experienced a phenomenon that gymnasts called “twists and turns”: in completing a twist that was less than planned. After the vault, her body performed poorly and her heart instructed.
“I didn’t choose to do one and a half. I tried to do two and a half, but I just didn’t click,” she told the Financial Times, adding that the difficulties of her daily life made this disconnection life-threatening.
“You have to be 100% or 120% there, because if you are not a little bit, you may get injured. Even in my vault, I don’t know where I am in the air,” she said.
Before the Tokyo Olympics, some authorities took additional measures to help athletes cope with mental health issues. The British Academy of Sport is an organization that supports the training of top athletes. It provides athletes, coaches and staff with courses with sports psychologists to solve the anxiety caused by the Olympic Games postponement and the interruption of the training mode, as well as the Continuous uncertainty as to whether training can be carried out. The event will even happen.
Kate Hays, a psychologist at EIS, said that the agency established a “report” program for athletes during the pandemic based on research on hostages and ways to reintegrate them into society. This is considered to be the closest way to deal with the pressure caused by the blockade.
The pressure to win has unfortunate consequences
Athlete welfare is also the reason why the British team has shifted its focus. British Sports is a government-backed organization that funds elite Olympic athletes. In the past 12 years, it has invested 883 million pounds in training medal hopefuls. The money has been ruthlessly used in events that provide multiple medals, such as sailing, cycling, and rowing.
However, the incentives created by the system have led to accusations of the mentality of winning at all costs, which has led to many bullying and abuse scandals. This prompted a change in the methods used at the beginning of the Tokyo Olympics, which included not publishing medal targets to change the impression that the authorities care more about honor than the welfare of athletes.
British taekwondo athlete and two-time Olympic champion Jed Jones lost in the first round last weekend, and she attributed the shocking result in part to pandemic restrictions.
“I just felt that I put too much pressure on myself, and I did have more pressure than I expected that day. Not having my family there to drive me out of that fear zone did affect me, I just felt guts, I couldn’t Do more that day,” she said.
IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said the pandemic has accelerated the organization’s efforts to address mental health issues. The International Olympic Committee now provides psychologists and help lines in 17 languages for athletes in the Olympic Village.
“Simon Byers” Olympic Games
But the expectations imposed on Byers may be higher than most people.
Irish golfer Rory McIlroy said: “I live in the United States, and anything that appears on TV, NBC, or advertisements about the Olympics is Simone Biles.” “I mean that. It’s the Simon Byers Olympics, right?”
Nevertheless, some non-sports experts questioned Byers’ decision. Texas Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz called her withdrawal from the team finals a “national embarrassment.” He then apologized for his remarks and deleted his original tweet after a strong protest .
Phil Dalhauser American beach volleyball player, Said he was disappointed and people would accuse the gymnast of protecting her safety.
“I have seen both sides of the argument, she is very weak, how could she leave the team, and for me, they are a group of quarterbacks on Monday morning,” he said. “I think people will criticize soon.”
It is not clear whether the negative comments have put pressure on Byers.She participated in the men’s and women’s all-around finals in Tokyo, cheering for her gymnasts, and burst into applause when her teammate Sunisa Lee Won the championship Thursday.
“Poured out [of] The love and support I received made me realize that I am more than just achievements and gymnastics that I have never really believed in before,” she wrote on social media shortly before the event.