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STILLWATER, Okla.— With U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles recently removing herself from the team competition in Japan, the mental health of athletes has become a prominent news topic. Dr. Trevor Richardson of Oklahoma State University has made himself available as a resource.
Ms. Biles received empathy and enmity from people across the country after she withdrew from an individual and team gymnastics final during the Tokyo Olympics. While reports first claimed she had a sudden medical emergency, Two-time olympic champion and 7-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles later clarified she had suffered from “the twisties,” a mental health issue that caused her to doubt her ability to perform.
Simone Biles helps spark conversation on mental health among athletes
She previously had a few slip-ups during practice, and experts have noted how questioning yourself in mid-air can be a deadly risk for gymnastics athletes.
The director of counseling and sports psychology at Oklahoma State University, Dr. Richardson has a background in counseling, having spent more than 10 years as part of OSU’s Counseling Services department before moving to his current role.
University offers resources
“It is a good sign for our society when individuals are feeling empowered to advocate for their mental health,” Dr. Richardson said. “Athletes are under added scrutiny being in such a public forum. When you account for the pressure of competitions being finite and all the training an athlete puts in to prepare, the decision to step away from a competition is very difficult.”
Simone Biles did return to the balance beam on Tuesday however, winning the Olympic bronze medal in the event finals.
“If we as the general society can support them through empathy, we will all be better off. I would suggest being curious about the athlete’s journey in how they got to that place and how this can lead us to a better place of understanding,” OSU’s Dr. Richardson said.
To learn more, visit go.okstate.edu.