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Kansas City-area sports psychologist weighs in on Simone Biles putting mental health first

Simone Biles
Posted at 12:53 PM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 13:56:30-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City area sports psychologist is weighing in on Simone Biles' choice to pull herself out of this weeks competition due to mental health reasons.

“I think we're just a little bit too stressed out," Biles said after pulling out of the competition. "We should be out here having fun and sometimes, that's not the case."

That stress is what had the most decorated American gymnast to put her mental health first and not take part in the team or all-around event.

"I just thought it would be better to take a backseat to work on my mindfulness," Biles said. "I knew that the girls would do an absolutely great job and I didn't want to risk the team a medal through my screw-ups."

It's not uncommon for athletes to remove themselves from competition due to physical injuries, but it's rare to do so for their mental well being.

"The pressures of being an athlete today are probably more intense than ever before," Andrew Jacobs, a Kansas City sports psychologist said.

Jacobs has worked with past and present Olympic athletes. He teaches athletes that they have to work on their mental health in the same way they'd work on their physical health.

"(I) Always talk about focusing on the effort you put into things," Jacobs said. "When you’re an Olympian, and (me) having been a team psychologist with teams like the cycling team in the 1984 Olympics, where we won nine medals and had not won any in 72 years in Los Angeles, I saw this firsthand," Jacobs said.

He notes that these men and women need to be ready to face adversity and handle stress when they hit the big stage.

"The pressures to do well are very intense so you have to be able to go within yourself, focus on yourself on your own personal goals (and) block out the distractions, block out everything else," Jacobs said.

Biles took a page out of Jacobs' book and focused on herself and putting the world's pressures behind her.

"So it's okay sometimes to sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself," Biles said. "It shows how strong a person and competitor you really are, rather than just battle through it."

It is unknown if Biles will compete next week.