“I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this,” she said. “I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year was a bit much.” Osaka, who also competed in the Tokyo Olympics, lost to the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova on Tuesday. She said the high expectations placed on her contributed to her loss. Biles told reporters her decision was inspired by Osaka. Before the team finals, Biles wrote in an Instagram post that she sometimes feels she has “the weight of the world” on her shoulders and felt pressure heading into the Olympics.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open after clashing with officials over her opting to skip news conferences to focus on her mental health. French tennis officials initially threatened to suspend and fine Osaka — but the four Grand Slam tournaments later released a joint statement commending her for sharing her experience. Biles — who told reporters Tuesday there’s “more to life than gymnastics” — is another in a series of athletes who have publicly prioritized their mental health firmly above their athletic pursuits, sparking a national conversation about mental health in sports.
“Perhaps we should give athletes the right to take a mental break from media scrutiny on a rare occasion without being subject to strict sanctions,” Osaka wrote earlier this month in a column for Time magazine. She later pulled out of the all-around competition and will “be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement.
Your health and peace matters. You’re reminding Black women that we can take the space we need for ourselves. — Cori Bush (@CoriBush) July 27, 2021 I stand with Simone Biles. I still stand with Naomi Osaka.
“Your health and peace matters,” Bush wrote. “You’re reminding Black women that we can take the space we need for ourselves.” Support has poured in for both Biles and Osaka on social media, including from Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon to praise the athletes for advocating for Black women’s mental health.
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