WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Local gymnasts are showing support for gold-medalist Simone Biles after she withdrew from Tuesday’s team final. In a Tuesday morning press conference, Biles said she was not in a good place mentally saying she wants to prioritize her mental wellbeing first.
Coaches and athletes from the Northwest YMCA gymnastics team said the sport is physically demanding and mentally demanding.
“It’s always good to remind yourself of why you’re doing the sport and try to remain positive while you’re inside the gym,” coach Madisyn Bucl said.
“I pushed through it for 10 years, and then, it got to the end, and I kind of lost my mental strength for the sport,” coach Ella Farber said. “I needed to focus on myself more and schooling.”
Both coaches say they ultimately left the sport for their mental health.
“I did have to see a sports psychologist just due to the mental blocks on skills that I was experiencing,” Bucl said. “But it was also nice having gone through that because I can share some of those strategies that I went through with the gymnasts that I coach now.”
Several Wichita gymnasts said there is a lot of public pressure on athletes to perform, especially for women.
“She was not in a mental right mindset, I guess,” said local gymnast Brooke Steven. “And sometimes that’s just what happens, and you just have to accept it and move on.”
“We have our coaches and family to help us through that stuff,” Steven said. “We always know they’re there for us, and we just trust them to never put us in a position where they know we couldn’t do it.”
Biles has not decided yet if she will compete in the individual competition.