Simone Biles isn’t sure she is “ready” to be “the face” of promoting mental health in sport.
The gymnast – who pulled out of four finals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to her own struggles – has promised to support others in similar situations but only when she’s feeling comfortable and has dealt with her own issues.
She told People magazine: “Sometimes when we speak on these things, then we become the face of it. I’m not sure if I’m completely ready for that aspect of it.
“Obviously, once I am a little bit more open about it, I’d love to help other people going through these things because it is very relatable to know that they are not alone with it.
“I think maybe one day but as of now, I have to focus on myself and getting myself right before I can speak and try to advocate for those things.”
But after a stressful few years, Simone is feeling “pretty laid back” at the moment and is enjoying spending time with her family and friends, including boyfriend Jonathan Owens.
Asked how her state of mind has been recently, she said: “To be completely honest, pretty laid back. Not as busy as 2016, but the world is a very different place so I believe that’s also the reason for that. It’s been nice to decompress and be with my family, loved ones and friends.”
The Olympic medalist recently urged people to ask for help if they are struggling with their mental health, even though it isn’t an easy thing to do.
She said: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know it’s not easy, but it really is helpful. And I know most of the time you’re scared, you might feel dumb. But as I have learned over the years, it’s OK to ask for help.
“Just remember, you’re also a person. I think even us as athletes tend to forget that because we’re only known as athletes and not valued as human beings. But it’s important to keep in contact with the human side of you.”
And Simone was relieved by the response she got after withdrawing from the Olympic events to preserve her mental health.
She said: “Over the years, obviously, since I’ve been so dominant everybody supports the gymnastics and praised me for what I’ve done in the gym and not really outside.
“Then once I took a step back, I obviously was expecting to feel a lot of backlash and embarrassment. But it’s the complete opposite. That’s the first time I felt human. Besides Simone Biles, I was Simone, and people kind of respected that.”