Local psychologist says Simone Biles’ decision to focus on her mental health makes her a true champion

Japan 2020

Simone Biles, of the United States, watches gymnasts perform after she exited the team final with apparent injury, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. The 24-year-old reigning Olympic gymnastics champion Biles huddled with a trainer after landing her vault. She then exited the competition floor with the team doctor. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– It was a vault that put Simone Biles in the world spotlight for something other than gymnastics.

Many were shocked to see the greatest gymnast of all time struggling to perform at a high level

“I say put mental health first because if you don’t then you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to so it’s ok sometimes to even sit out of a big competition to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a person and competitor you really are,” said Simone Biles.

“I think this a teachable moment because Simone Biles, with one decision, has crossed over, in my belief, to being a humanitarian,” said psychologist Susan Eleeson.

Eleeson is a psychologist who played basketball in high school and college. She says Biles should inspire everyone, not by her performance, but by her courage.

“What she’s done with this one decision, is she’s saying, you know what, my health is most important and I’m going to act on it. That will give permission to other women and then they will start seeing their brain health, mental health as number one and she’s going to save lives because of it, said Eleeson.”

Jeffrey LeMair came close to winning the Olympic finals in boxing. He says it’s easy to forget that top athletes are people too.

“It was shocking to me but it was like really informative and it just made a huge awareness that even the best of the best have those moments,” said LeMair

LeMair says Biles’ decision makes her a true champion.

“I trust her judgment and I support her decision,” said LeMair.

Eleeson says her courage is better than winning another gold medal.

“This isn’t about country or loyalty this is about a person making her health and safety her number one priority and I know for a fact, she’ll save lives,” said Eleeson.

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