World number 2 tennis player, Naomi Osaka and World number 5 gymnast, Simone Biles have recently been in the headlines because of their fight against mental health. The two athletes have spoken publicly about the stigma attached to this issue and have got a lot of hate and praise for their words.
Simone Biles recently withdrew from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Gymnastics event citing mental health issues. She got a lot of criticism for her decision with many saying she is giving up, selfish and weak. Earlier this year, Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open in Paris for the same reasons. She did not attend the mandatory press-conference after her first-round match and thus, was fined $15,000 by the authorities. Both these athletes got a lot of backlash as well as support from the public for their actions.
Cartoon Network showed their support for these champions and applauded them for their strength and for speaking up. “Giving Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka their flowers for speaking up and protecting their mental and physical health. Thank you for inspiring us, not just by advancing your sports but also showing your human side, and we love you for all of it” they tweeted.
Naomi retweeted the post on her account, to show her support for Simone, captioning it “This is so cute”.
You are not going to succeed as much as you want to if you do not put mental health first: Simone Biles
“I say put mental health first because if you don’t then you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to. So it’s OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a competitor and person that you really are, rather than just battle through it” said Simone.
“I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardise my health and well-being . We have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do. At the end of the day, I have to do what is right for me. It just sucks that it happened at the Olympic Games” she added.
“It’s OK not to be OK”: Naomi Osaka
“It has become apparent to me that literally everyone either suffers from issues related to their mental health or knows someone who does. The number of messages I received from such a vast cross section of people confirms that. I think we can almost universally agree that each of us is a human being and subject to feelings and emotions” said Naomi in an article to the Times in July.
“I communicated that I wanted to skip press conferences at Roland Garros to exercise self-care and preservation of my mental health. I stand by that. Athletes are humans. Tennis is our privileged profession, and of course there are commitments off the court that coincide. But I can’t imagine another profession where a consistent attendance record (I have missed one press conference in my seven years on tour) would be so harshly scrutinised” she added.
“Perhaps we should give athletes the right to take a mental break from media scrutiny on a rare occasion without being subject to strict sanctions. I do hope that people can relate and understand it’s O.K. to not be O.K., and it’s O.K. to talk about it. There are people who can help, and there is usually light at the end of any tunnel. Michael Phelps told me that by speaking up I may have saved a life. If that’s true, then it was all worth it.”