2020 Tokyo Olympics: Michael Phelps Comes to Simone Biles’ Defense Over Withdrawing Due to Mental Health

by Emily Morgan

Michael Phelps is standing behind fellow Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles and her decision to remove herself from two events at the Olympics due to her mental health.

Phelps, who has been transparent about his own mental health struggles, recently appeared on NBC’s “Today” to show his support for the 24-year-old world champion gymnast.

“We’re human beings,” he said on Wednesday. “We have emotions. We deal with things just like everybody else does. It’s difficult.” He added, “I would say we want support. We feel the love from everybody else.”

While providing coverage for the Games, he stated: “Mental health over the last 18 months is something people are talking about. Nobody is perfect. So yes, it is OK not to be OK.”

While he supports Biles’ decision to withdraw, he admitted that it “broke his heart.”

Biles, often referred to as the greatest of all time in gymnastics withdrew from Thursday’s solo event after bowing out from Wednesday’s team competition. As of now, it’s still yet to be determined if she’ll compete in the three other events.

Simone Biles has remained relatively quiet online. However, on Wednesday, she retweeted another gymnast’s tweet, which said she’d been through enough trauma after being the victim of sexual abuse by pedophile doctor Larry Nassar.

On Tuesday, Phelps said: “The easiest way for me to say this is athletes and Olympic athletes in general, we need someone who we can trust, somebody that can let us be ourselves and listen. Allow us to become vulnerable.” He added, “Somebody who’s not going to try to fix us.”

Phelps on Simone Biles’ Descision to Withdraw: ‘It’s Ok to Not Be Ok’

‘We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders, and it’s challenging,’ he said. Phelps won a whopping 28 Olympic medals before he retired in 2016 after the Rio Games. Phelps, who’s been open about his ongoing battles with depression, revealed he contemplated suicide following the 2012 London Olympics.

According to the swimmer, at one point, he didn’t leave his room for five days because he had fallen into a crippling depression that left him feeling like the “weakest” person alive.

For Phelps, it wasn’t the pressure of the event, but the “intense low” he felt following the games. Since retiring from swimming, he has been an advocate for mental health.

As for Simone Biles, she recently appeared on the gymnastics floor to support her Team USA teammates.

The Columbus, Ohio native first removed herself from the competition on Tuesday, saying she needed to focus on her mental health. The following day, she announced that she would also be withdrawing from Thursday’s solo competition after undergoing a medical evaluation.