When Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast her sport has ever seen, dropped out of competition in the middle of these Olympic Games, I was momentarily stunned. It wasn’t just the announcement, but the timing of it. I mean smack dab in the middle of the competition she said she couldn’t handle the emotional overload; she was shaking, anxious, unable to sleep, or perform safely.
Simone was similarly stricken in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. She reached out to mental health professionals, it was helpful and felt she’d gotten things under control. The intense glare and expectations took a toll, and she’d had lots of other stressors including physical injuries, sexual assault by a team doctor, Olympic Committee indifference/politics/and economics which have come to overshadow the Games.
Simone knew after her first vault that she was no longer doing this for herself but to fulfil the expectations of others. She said, my heart is heavy, I’m overwhelmed, and I need to take care of myself. Simone stood up and told her truth… and your truth is when what you know, what you do and what you feel are all telling the same story. If your mind is telling you a different story than what your body and spirit are telling you, you will get sick.
If you’re not sure what story to believe, I say pay attention to the voice in your gut because your body and intuition know things the mind cannot yet see. I applaud her courage in telling her truth and choosing to be so open and vulnerable.
She told her teammates what she was feeling and what she was going to do; told them they could do it without her, she was with them even if she wasn’t on the floor. They were winners and all there because they deserved to be. The Team came together, they were tenacious, and they are winning medals galore. By the end of the week, they will have handed all the medals out. Simone Biles may not be on the winner’s platform draped with another Olympic medal, but I’m giving her a gold medal in Truth Telling and hope it will inspire other athletes to listen to their truths and take better care of themselves.