By Haaniyah Faisal, Staff Writer

When people think of Simone Biles, winning 32 Olympic World Championship Medals is what comes to most people’s mind. What doesn’t come to our mind is that she’s simply another human being who occasionally enjoys eating pizza, loves dogs and eye makeup, and faces daily challenges just like everyone else. Despite knowing nothing about her life, a number of people straight up insulted her for dropping out of several competitions in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games. They failed to recognize that she came from a difficult background and that health comes above all others.

Mental health is an important aspect of life that numerous people struggle with, especially famous athletes. According to the article, ¨,¨ nearly 35% of professional athletes struggle with mental health problems. Some notable names include Michael Phelps, Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, and many more. Athletes go through a lot of pressure and have to put in hours of effort to perform well at the highest level. This is just one of the things they do apart from playing actual games. They juggle their stressful work life and home life while trying to balance both. Doing physical activity with different commitments and responsibilities at the back of your head is not easy and requires exceptional mental strength. Although sports plays a huge role in improving your mental health, it only does so much. In an interview, Simone Biles mentioned, “I think a lot of people don’t realize that it’s such a mental sport.” She explains that Gymnastics requires immense focus and concentration. That was something she realized she was struggling with during the 2020 Olympics Tokyo Games. She attempted to do a vault during the women’s teams finals, but lost her balance half way. She realized that she was not at her best physically and mentally and dropped out of the competition minutes later.¨ I just felt like it would be better to take a back seat, work on my mindfulness,¨ Simone said in an interview. 

The vault was not the sole reason she decided to withdraw from the Olympics games. Simone Biles’ aunt unfortunately passed away in the midst of the Tokyo games. Losing a loved one is not easy for anyone, especially for people like Simone Biles who’s very close to her family. Her aunt’s death was completely unexpected, so this was a complete shocker for her. Instead of pleasing people, she chose to put herself above all others and took one of the bravest decisions of her life.” I did not want to risk the team a medal for, kind of, my screw ups, because they’ve worked way too hard for that.”  

Though several people were disappointed, she made the difficult but right decision and put her mental health first. “Taking care of myself doesn’t mean ‘me first.’ It means ‘me too.'” This quote could not better explain the importance of taking care of yourself before taking care of or watching out for another person. After all, the things that you cherish most in life would not be cherished if you don’t prioritize yourself first.

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