BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Simone Biles is considered by many to be the top female gymnast in America, some would argue the world. On Tuesday, she withdrew from team competition at the Tokyo Olympics.
Biles said, “it is OK sometimes to sit out the big completion to focus on yourself, because it shows how strong of a competitor, and person you are.”READ MORE: More Than 465,000 Lose Power As Nor'easter Hits Massachusetts
The American star withdrew from the competition following one rotation, opening the door for the team of Russian athletes to win gold for the first time in nearly three decades.
Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee and Grace McCallum guided the U.S. to silver while Biles cheered from the sideline in a white sweatsuit, at peace with a decision that revealed a shift not only in Biles but perhaps the sport she’s redefined.
“We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day we’re human, too,” Biles said. “So, we have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”
Mihai Brestyan has trained some of America’s best gymnasts like Alicia Sacramone and Aly Raisman. He says the mental pressure of the Olympics is unlike anything else and he points out Olympians are humans too, with human frailties.READ MORE: Tree Crashes Onto Milton Home Above Sleeping 3-Year-Old's Bedroom
“It’s super pressure because being the highest level and the best in the world comes with the responsibilities, to prove again and your desire and your ego to prove again,” Brestyan said. “Then you take more pressure every day and I believe this is what happened now with Simone Biles.”
Today, Brestyan’s program in Burlington is focused on youngsters, but he says even a seven-year-old needs to start preparing, mentally, for competition. “Mental part is very, very important,” Brestyan said. “More than everything else.”
Boston University psychologist David Barlow says humans have different levels of resiliency.
“Great athletes tend to have very high levels of resilience to the performance demands,” Dr. Barlow said. “But nevertheless, everyone has their breaking point, everybody is human.”
Biles has become an outspoken advocate for athlete’s rights and the importance of proper mental health.
She is the latest in a series of high-profile athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka, who have used their platforms to discuss their mental heath struggles. A subject that was once taboo has become far more accepted and embraced.MORE NEWS: Cohasset Without Power As Nor'easter Brings Down Trees And Wires
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