September 19, 2021

Byles’s Tokyo campaign could spark a wider shift around mental health

It used to be Naomi Osaka, now weeks later there is a tearful Simon Byles. The two biggest names in the sport have publicly revealed that they are struggling with their mental health. And they can be a catalyst for wider change.

On Tuesday, superstar American gymnast Biles was stunned at the Tokyo Olympics when he withdrew from the women’s team final, saying: “I have to do well for myself and focus on my mental health and my health and my Don’t endanger your health. “

The 24-year-old had already indicated that she was feeling overwhelmed in the Japanese capital, writing on Instagram: “I really feel like sometimes the weight of the world is on my shoulders.”

His participation in the rest of the Olympics is also uncertain.

Within hours, sympathy was expressed on social media for Bailes, an already four-time Olympic gold medalist, who is beyond sport.

Simon Byles
Experts say Simon Byles’ dramatic exit from Olympic gymnastics finals due to mental health concerns, Photo: AFP / Lock Venus

Writing on Twitter, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Four thanked Byles for “being a role model and showing the world that it’s okay to prioritize your mental health.”

Also on Tuesday, Osaka – which lit the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony – suffered a shock exit from tennis.

As one of the faces of domestic hope and sports, the 23-year-old said there was “a lot of pressure”.

The Japanese returned just two months after the game to reveal that they were depressed.

Byles and Osaka, who are only seven months old, are by no means the only young athletes in the public eye.

At Wimbledon earlier this month, 18-year-old Emma Radukano of Britain came out of nowhere to reach the fourth round, only to retire from the match, previously described as having “breathing difficulties”.

Name Osaka
Japan’s Naomi Osaka draws attention to pressure on players following withdrawal from French Open and Wimbledon earlier this year Photo: AFP / Taziana FBI

“The whole experience came with me,” the young man later said.

It’s not just young women. Following Radukano’s explanation, England and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford said he had a similar problem when he was a teenager.

In 2018, NBA star Kevin Love said he suffered a concussion during a match, while Olympic swimming great Michael Phelps and England cricketer Marcus Trescott have also openly documented their mental turmoil. ۔

Julie Ann Tolberg, a sports psychologist and sports journalism expert at Monash University in Australia, told AFP: “Mental health has long been a major cause of poor performance in high-pressure sports such as the Olympic Games. Spread out. “

Simon Byles profile
Profile of American gymnast Simon Byles, photo of his return to his second Olympics in Tokyo: AFP / John Sackie

“However, the players are now willing to talk openly about their pressure,” he said.

Tolberg said people are struggling with “performance anxiety” in every area of ​​life, and that is why people around the world are living in intermittent lockdown during the Corona virus epidemic.

“But people are more willing to talk about it (mental health) now,” he said.

“We are offered support networks all the time, we are encouraged to get help, and people are now taking these options because if they know in their workplace that they are struggling, they They are not afraid of the consequences. “

Tolberg said the unusual anti-virus measures faced by athletes at the Tokyo Games, where they are mostly confined to the Olympic Village, undoubtedly hit hard on rivals.

“I think the Olympic Village bubble is having a big impact on the athletes,” he said.

“They were able to go out and party after their events, but now they are not able to do so for the first time in recent history.”

Katie Camker, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, said Bills’ admission would help “normalize conversation.”

“Athletics has always been in the world, with an emphasis on being physically fit and mentally fit,” he told CBC / Radio-Canada.

“And it can continue to be a kind of silent suffering and isolation.”

Eliasson, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and a former Bliss teammate, said Byles had been under a lot of pressure over the months leading up to Tox because of the expected weight.

“Humans have a lot, that’s all they can take,” Rasman told American television.

The 27-year-old, who retired last year, has raised doubts about what kind of psychological support has been provided to Byles and other American athletes.

“When I was training, we didn’t really have the resources to talk about our mental health or how to understand it,” Raisan told ESPN.

“We need to ask organizations like USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee: what are you doing to help your athletes and how can we stop athletes from realizing that they are struggling so much? Can’t they finish the contest? “

Copyright AFP. All rights reserved.

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