Michael Phelps is showing support to Simone Biles.
The swimming legend spoke with host Mike Tirico during the 2021 Tokyo Games and reacted to Simone Biles withdrawing from the women’s gymnastics team event at the Olympics this week to focus on her mental health.
Phelps got candid about how much Olympians face while competing and the intense scrutiny the athletes faces while on such a large worldwide stage.
“The Olympics (are) overwhelming. There is a lot of emotions that go into it. There is a lot of — I mean, I could talk to you about this for an hour. The easiest way for me to say is, I think athletes and Olympic athletes in general, I mean talking about weight of gold, we need someone who we can trust, somebody that can let us be ourselves and listen. Allow us to become vulnerable. Somebody who is not going to try to fix us. We carry a lot of things, a lot of weight on our shoulders, and it’s challenging, especially when we have the lights on us and all of these expectations that are being thrown on top of us,” Phelps shared. “So 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.”
Biles has faced some backlash from the public after her exit from the games, but Phelps is rallying behind her, saying it’s “okay to not be okay.”
“We’re humans, right? We’re human beings. Nobody is perfect. Yes, it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to go through ups and downs and emotional roller coasters. You know, but I think the biggest thing is we all need to ask for help sometimes, too, when we go through those times,” he shared.
Phelps continued saying personally it was hard for him to ask for help when he needed it most.
“For me I can say personally it was very challenging. It was hard for me to ask for help. I felt like I was carrying Simone, said, the weight of the world on your shoulders. So, yeah, it’s a tough situation.”
Phelps has been open about his own struggles with his mental health in the past. While on “Today” in 2018, he got candid about his struggles with depression and why he wanted to open up about them.
“My struggles carried on in my career, and I hid them really well. But I think really, going to the (Rio) Olympics, I was just ready to open up and let everything come out. And for me, this is something that is very important and there are so many people that struggle from very similar things I go through and still go through,” he said.
— Stephanie Swaim