Everyone has a story, a testimonial or simply put, an experience that put them in the trajectory that they are in today. No one is alone. I’m thankful to capture moments like these. I’m thankful for the people who hear my story and also oblige to share a bit of their story with me. A piece of advice to you: never be afraid to share your story, you’d be surprised with how many people share a common story with you.
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Mental Health is more important than any accolade. Two queens, Naomi Osaka in tennis and Simone Biles in gymnastics had to prove others wrong when they knew they had to pay more attention to their mental health. It’s a matter of sanity over performance and I’m proud of their decisions in choosing their mental health over something they love to perform in the sports that make them one of the best to ever do it.
When I first heard the news, which came separately, of the stepping down of Naomi Osaka from tennis and Simone Biles from gymnastics, all I could think about is for them to immediately block out any critics and follow their instinct to personal wellness. Both athletes were highly decorated with medals on and off the Olympic scene and should be honored for making their decisions to step down in order to promote their mental health. Simone Biles still became decorated with a silver for team all-around and a bronze medal in balance beam, which was on her own timing of her feeling comfortable to compete.
One thing I’m happy about with Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka’s decision to withdraw is that nowadays, there is power in our own voice. No simply means no and yes comes with certainty. There is power in our opinion, when back then a decision to withdraw would have not been accepted and supported by the coaches and the whole Olympic committee and teams.
Does anyone remember former Soviet gymnast Elena Mukhina? Less than a month before the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, she under-rotated a gymnastic move and landed on her chin, which made her paralyzed as a quadriplegic. Who knows the psych of Elena at the time, but she was forced to compete in gymnastics with a broken leg. She was only 20 years old at the time, and the decision by her team to still fight and compete ended up in a tragic accident. Elena ended up passing away in 2006 from quadriplegic complications at the age of 46.
No one knows the practice and endurance one has to put on themselves just to give us a 3-5 minute show of excellence. It is time to become more mindful and understanding into one’s decision to perform, or not to perform. Your intentional greed to benefit of an athlete is never warranted and has to stop.
I’m so proud of you Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles for doing what was right for you, and no explanation is needed when your mental health comes into play. It was a wonderful Olympics to watch you both and even when you were supporting your teammates from the stands.
Congratulations Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles on this endeavor as we all fight together to de-stigmatize the topic of mental health.