Simone Biles Praised Naomi Osaka for Leading the Conversation About Athletes’ Mental Health

Biles also said Osaka reached out to her with support at the Olympics.

Simone Biles arrived at the Tokyo Olympics hoping to add more gold medals to her collection. But in a decision that stunned fans everywhere, the gymnast withdrew from both the team final and every individual final except balance beam. Biles, 24, said she was dealing with mental health issues and “the twisties,” a term gymnasts use to refer to a mental block that causes them to lose their spatial awareness in the air.

Back home in America, Biles told Entertainment Tonight on August 19th that she’s content with her decision. The gymnast also credited tennis player Naomi Osaka for starting important conversations about athletes’ mental health.

Osaka, who competed for Japan at the Olympics, has recently spoken out about prioritizing her mental health. The four-time grand slam champion withdrew from several competitions leading up to the Olympics and explained that her anxiety surrounding press conferences (a requirement to compete in tennis tournaments) played a role in the decision.

Biles told Entertainment Tonight that she was moved when Osaka reached out to her during the Olympics.

She was actually really sweet and she reached out, Biles said. I was so overwhelmed, so I didn’t get the chance to respond, but I had so many people reach out and she was just so sweet.

Post-Olympics, Osaka and Biles have continued to speak out about mental health in sports. Earlier this week, Osaka became tearful and briefly stepped out of a press conference before her first match at the Western & Southern Open.

“She is speaking up about mental health, and I think it is really important that athletes put their mental health first because, at the end of the day, that is what is going to determine how well we go out there and compete in whatever sport that is,” Biles told ET.

Back home in Texas, Biles has been spending some well-deserved downtime relaxing poolside and hanging with her beloved dogs, friends, and boyfriend, NFL player Jonathan Owens. The GOAT of gymnastics says she hasn’t ruled out the Paris 2024 Olympics—but next up is Biles’ Gold Over America Tour, which begins on September 21st. She’ll be joined by her Tokyo Olympic teammates, as well as other gymnasts including Laurie Hernandez, who won a gold medal with Biles in the team final at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Caitlin Flynn
Caitlin Flynn is an award-winning writer and reporter who experienced early age corporate burnout in 2015 and traded New York City for the misty air and superior coffee of Seattle. Read more
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