From Vinesh Phogat to Simone Biles, top athletes who raised mental health concerns at the highest level


New Delhi: Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat who was handed a temporary suspension over her behaviour at the Tokyo Olympics has made headlines as she talks about the topsy turvy ride she has had to endure since recovering from her injury in 2019. The grappler opened up about going through a bout of depression after changing her weight category in 2019. 

The 2019 world championship bronze medallist pointed that Simone Biles was celebrated for announcing that she was not mentally prepared to perform at the Olympics but Indian athletes may not not get away with that. “Forget pulling out of wrestling, just try saying that you are not ready,” she lamented.

Here’s a list of athletes who admitted to mental pressure at sporting events:

US gymnast Simone Biles

Recently, US gymnastics star Simone Biles pulled out of events featuring at the Tokyo Olympics citing pressures of performing at the high level tournaments and how mentally she would fel drained. The 25-year-old defending champion of the individual all-around gymnastics title, decided to forego the chance to go for a second straight Olympic win, and prioritised her mental well-being over medal success.

Japanese Tennis star Naomi Osaka

Former world number one tennis player Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open, never went to Wimbledon and, after her early exit in Tokyo this week, conceded that the Olympic was a bit too much to handle. At the top of her game, Osaka had announced before this year’s French Open that she would not participate in any after-match news conferences because she wants to safeguard her mental well-being.  Expaining Osaka said that she had battled “long bouts of depression” since her US Open win in 2018. 

Former US swimmer Michael Phelps

Former US swimmer and 23-time Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps had revealed he contemplated committed suicide after 2012 London Olympics due to depression. “You do contemplate suicide,” the Olympian told a hushed audience at the fourth annual conference of the Kennedy Forum, a behavioral health advocacy group. Phelps’ in his 20-minute discussion with a senior political commentator for CNN highlighted his battle against anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Australian basketball star Liz Cambage

Australia’s WNBA player, Liz Cambage pulled out of the Olympics a week prior citing anxiety over entering a controlled COVID-19 bubble in Tokyo. “It’s no secret that in the past I’ve struggled with my mental health and recently I’ve been really worried about heading into a ‘bubble’ Olympics,” Cambage said in posts on Instagram and Twitter.

“No family. No friends. No fans. No support system outside of my team. It’s honestly terrifying for me. The past month I’ve been having panic attacks, not sleeping and not eating. Relying on daily medication to control my anxiety is not the place I want to be right now,” she wrote.

Dutch cyclist Tom Dumoulin

Dutch cyclist Tom Dumoulin left training camp in January to clear his head, saying he was finding it ‘very difficult for me to know how to find my way as Tom Dumoulin the cyclist’. “The pressure, the expectations from different parties, I just want to do well for the team, for the sponsors, for my wife, for my family. I want to do well for everybody but over the course of doing that I kind of forgot myself.” he said in video to bicycling.com.

 



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