Many were shocked by artistic gymnast superstar Simone Biles decision to pull out of Team USA's all-around final for what appeared to be an injury. Later it was confirmed that the five-time gold medalist abandoned the competition due to what was dubbed a “mental issues.”
Despite being the undisputed favorite for the individual all-around finals, Simone Biles removed herself from the first day of individual competition to focus on her “well-being” as put out in a statement by the USA Gymnastics twitter account. The 24-year-old had previously mentioned feeling under a lot of pressure on her social media accounts on Sunday. Many star athletes, like former USMNT forward Landon Donovan, have come out in support of Biles decision to put herself first above any competition or unwanted pressure.
Landon Donovan is no stranger to needing to look after oneself, Donovan took a break from soccer in 2013 and other sports stars have had to do the same. In the world of sports pressure, it is very common for athletes to succumb to the media, social, and peer pressure that comes with the fame of being a pro athlete. In Uruguay, for example, three professional soccer players have taken their lives in the last six months. Being able to spot when a person is in need is extremely important and hopefully professional sports will do more to avoid this unwanted pressure athletes are forced to deal with. Here is a list of professional athletes who needed to take time for themselves.
As mentioned before, Landon Donovan took time off from Soccer in 2013, at the time the USMNT World Cup hero stated he “needed time for himself”, Later it was revealed that Donovan was dealing with depression, Donovan stated in an interview: “I was burnt out, and getting up and going to training every day was really weighing on me. I never wanted it to be that way. I think a lot of players, a lot of athletes feel that way at times. I think they’re scared to say it because it shows perceived weakness. It shows your coach that you’re not completely committed like all coaches want. It shows that you’re human, and sometimes people don’t like to see that. But I realized that if I stayed on that path, it was just going to get worse and worse. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to live my life that way.”
In 2009 Golfer Tiger Woods took a break from the sport he loves to focus on salvaging his marriage after it was revealed that the golf great had various affairs with many women. Woods divorced in 2010 and continued to have incidents that have been cause for concern, most recently a near fatal car crash in February of this year.
Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka stated having “long bouts of depression” after she won her first major tournament, the U.S. Open in 2018. Osaka took to social media to express what she has been going through and how she tries to deal with it.
Swimming legend Michael Phelps came out publicly and admitted to not only having issues with depression but feeling suicidal. "I'll be the first to admit my mental health has been scarier than it's ever been throughout all of this, so I can't even imagine what other people are going through," he told The Insider. Phelps coups by having a strong exercise routine and being able to “control what he can”.
Spanish World Cup winner Andrés Iniesta sought professional help after feeling uneasy and feeling that “nothing was right”, after the 2010 World Cup. “When you need help, you have to look for it: at times it’s necessary. People are specialists; that’s what they’re there for. You have to use them.”
Tennis legend Serena Williams battled depression in 2006 and 2010 following injuries and health concerns. “I definitely have not been happy. Especially when I had that second [foot] surgery, I was definitely depressed. I cried all the time. I was miserable to be around,” Williams had said. Williams took a break from Tennis to seek help for her depression and injuries and has been a spokesperson to cause awareness for the struggles many people face through depression.