“It broke my heart” - Michael Phelps on Biles decision to pull out
Michael Phelps is one of the most decorated Olympians in the history of the Games and he said that “the Olympics are overwhelming”.
USA Gymnastics confirmed that Simone Biles officially pulled out of the all-around gymnastic competition finals to “focus on mental health.” After the news broke Michael Phelps, one of the most decorated Olympians in the history of the Games, praised Biles for being brave enough to take that decision.
Phelps can relate to Biles’ sentiment
“It broke my heart. But also, if you look at it, mental health over the last 18 months is something that people are talking about,” Phelps said to NBC’s Mike Tirico.
Phelps confirmed that he suffered depression, and battled anxiety and suicidal thoughts throughout his Olympic career with Team USA. Phelps said that he had to seek professional help to overcome his mental health and in 2010 the four-time Olympian launched the Michael Phelps Foundation to teach kids to be healthy and active.
“The Olympics are overwhelming. There are a lot of emotions that go into it. I can talk about this for an hour. The easiest way for me to say it is I think athletes, and Olympic athletes in general, we need someone who we can trust. Somebody who can let us be ourselves, listen and allow us to become vulnerable. Somebody who is not gonna come try to fix us,” Phelps said. “We carry a lot of things and a lot of weight on our shoulders. It’s challenging, especially when we have the lights on us and all the expectations that are being thrown on top of us.
“We’re human beings, nobody is perfect. It’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to go through ups and downs and emotional roller coasters, I felt like I was carrying, as Simone [Biles] said, the weight of the world on my shoulders. It’s a tough situation.”
“I hope this is an eye-opening experience, I really do. I hope this is an opportunity for us to jump on board and to even blow this mental health thing even more wide open. It is so much bigger than we could even ever imagine,” Phelps said. “This is something that’s gonna take a lot of time, a lot of hard work and people who are willing to help.”