Simone Biles: Your decision not to win is your greatest achievement

Simone Biles
Which is why her decision against Olympia is her biggest win

Simone Biles

© Getty Images

Two women, a taboo subject. Simone Biles speaks openly about her psychological problems at the Olympic Games and finally makes the invisible mental pressure visible. For me a victory that dwarfs everything else. My strong wife of the month of July.

Actually, this is about two strong women: Simone Biles, 24, and Naomi Ōsaka, 23, are competitive athletes who already achieve incredible things at a young age. They were considered to be certain winners at this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. But what could not be seen with the naked eye: The social pressure to be considered the dignity and hope of an entire country triggers psychological problems in the two women. They cannot withstand the mental pressure of the competition.

Biles decides to get out early. Tennis star Naomi Osaka leaves the force in the round of 16. What may sound like two defeats to me are the stories of two brave women who put their mental health above their success. And thus achieve more than a gold medal could ever do.

Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka: Strong women with courage, strength and reach

Osaka and Biles are making history in my eyes with their performance at the 2021 Olympics. Not because their exits – some may also describe it as “defeats” – are of such importance. No, they make history because their openness about the reasons for their exits was long overdue. It is time that mental health and psychological stress were no longer hushed up.

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Simone Biles said: “I truly feel like I have the burden of the world on my shoulders right now.” Naomi Osaka admitted to herself after her Olympic exit: “Maybe it was all a little too much for me.” Being so honest at such a young age – not just to yourself, but to the whole world – sends out an important message.

Competitive sport and defeat – when the pressure gets too great

I personally have always been fascinated by competitive sport. I myself have always seen sport as a balance. Moments in which I can focus on my body and shake off the stress of my private life and work. For this reason, competitive sport is a fascination for me – and not in a positive sense. Achievement, pressure, success; Always further, always faster, but above all always be better than someone else. It is never enough. The tournament that has been won is overshadowed as soon as the next one is around the corner. And the price that has to be paid for it? Mental health. If I’m honest, that’s a very bad deal in my eyes.

The word “defeat” alone is a completely wrong context for me, in which the eliminated participants are placed. If you search for synonyms for this word, you will come across the following terms: downfall. Fail. Bad luck. Failure. Let these terms affect you … and now put a young talent, in their early 20s, in connection with these terms. It feels wrong, doesn’t it?

To convey to a young talent who made it to the Olympic Games that only a gold medal is a victory is fatal and, in my opinion, wrong. Sports psychologist Nadine Volkmer, who looks after the German beach volleyball duo in Tokyo, also told “Sportschau” what far-reaching consequences such pressure to perform can have: “The question is also: Is it a healthy goal, gold in the run-up to all difficulties It is certainly more productive to lower expectations. Many people watch the Olympic Games, they don’t even know the preliminary results. But they expect the athletes to work. But no one can always work. It contradicts our nature. ”

Does competitive sport work without mental pressure?

I understand everyone who now screams and says that if you ignore the performance in competitive sport, then the point of such a competition is virtually nil. Those who compete in the Olympics do so in order to win. I understand that, believe me. But isn’t the price of mental health far too high to pay for prestige? For me there is only one correct answer here: yes.

The fact that Simone Biles, at the age of 24, has the courage to give priority to her health in the midst of the Olympics is the greatest success of the competition for me. It is a sign. A sign of the removal of taboos. A sign of courage. A sign of the importance of mental health. A sign that the love of sport should never give way to the pressures of society.

The love that Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka showed after they left the Olympics shows that these women have fulfilled their role as role models. And that without a gold medal.