Simone Biles took to the Olympic stage in Tokyo with millions across the world expecting her to bring another gold medal haul back to the States.
As the most decorated gymnast in history, Biles was the favourite to finish top of her individual events. But the 24-year-old would only complete one event after taking the brave step of opening up about her mental health struggles.
Biles pulled out of the all-around team final with a case of 'the twisties', before withdrawing from all but one individual event.
After Naomi Osaka retired from the French Open earlier this year due to mental health issues, the topic has been more talked about than ever.
Biles has contributed to the healthy discussion around mental health and the importance of seeking help.
She remained active in her media duties in Tokyo and talked openly on air about her state of mind while encouraging others to speak out and support each other.
Since returning from Japan, the gymnast has spoken to various people and outlets about what she experienced at the Games.
Biles recently sat down with her mother Nellie for a Q&A session for Athleta’s new digital community, AthletaWell.
She reflected on what happened immediately after she made the decision to withdraw from the team final and admitted "nobody kind of understands the platform that we’re on. We’re not seen as normal people walking around."
Biles stayed in close contact with her coaches and the staff of Team USA and said she received messages of support from some of the biggest stars outside of sport.
"Justin Bieber reached out and messaged me, so did Demi Lovato..."
The four-time Olympic gold medallist touched so many people with her courage. Both she and Osaka have helped break the stigma surrounding mental health by normalising conversations about it.
Equally, she has found comfort knowing people have started to see her as just Simone Biles, not the decorated Olympian who carries enormous pressure with her to every tournament she attends.
"That’s the first time I felt human,” she reflected. “Like, besides Simone Biles, I was Simone, and people kind of respected that.”
Despite her struggles, Biles made her comeback on the balance beam and finished third after scoring 14 points on the apparatus. Her bronze medal in Tokyo was her seventh Olympic accolade.News Now - Sport News