Stop putting unfair pressure on professional athletes


Gymnastics Legend. Olympic Champion. The greatest of all time. All of these terms have been used to describe Simone Biles. 

Having asserted her dominance on the world gymnastics stage by becoming the most medaled gymnast ever, Biles went into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the heavy favorite for Team USA. 

But that quickly changed on the night of the Team Finals event. After a conversation with her teammates and the USA team doctor, Biles decided to withdraw from the remainder of the team final for mental health issues.

Not only is the decision of an athlete to opt out of competing for mental health issues valid, but it illuminates how much pressure athletes feel to do well. It’s unhealthy and it needs to be stopped.

Initially USA Gymnastics released a statement via Twitter that Simone withdrew from the competition due to a medical issue, but Biles later clarified that she did not compete becasue of ongoing mental health struggles. 

This statement began a new conversation for not only gymnasts but Olympic athletes as a whole. 

What kind of toll do the mental pressures of the Olympics take? The athletes who compete in these games train long hours, and many work their entire lives to have the chance to represent their country and have a medal put around their neck. But at what cost? By the looks of it, a pretty high one.

Recently, other Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps and Naomi Osaka have come forward about their battle with mental health and being in the spotlight. Phelps and Osaka both said that the pressures put on them have led to struggles with anxiety and depression. 

These athletes are voicing an opinion likely shared by many other Olympians. 

It is time to lower the expectations  we put on our athletes. Let’s start celebrating them for the incredible things they can do and not just the awards they bring to our country. 

A new environment needs to be created on the Olympic stage that makes our athletes feel welcome and safe talking about their struggles. 

Like Simone Biles said, “Put your mental health first. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the biggest stage. That’s more important than any other medal you could win.”