Sports Psychologist says Simone Biles "made the right decision" to bow out from Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 27: Simone Biles of Team United States looks on during the Women's Team Final on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 27, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

Olympic champion and Houston's own, Simone Biles made headlines after bowing out unexpectedly from the Tokyo Olympics. 


USA Gymnastics said in a statement on Wednesday that the 24-year-old is opting to not compete. The decision comes a day after Biles removed herself from the team final following one rotation because she felt she wasn’t mentally ready. To get a better understanding, FOX 26 Houston spoke with Sport Psychologist, Dr. Lennie Waite on the impact of Biles' sudden decision.

To get a better understanding and the impact of Biles bowing out unexpectedly from the Tokyo Olympics, we turned to Sports Psychologist Dr. Lennie Waite, who also understands what it is like to compete on the world's biggest stage.

"Honestly, my first reaction was, ‘oh no she didn’t’ [but] I think that was just the competitor in me when I think about there are times in my career where I dropped out of races, or I didn’t think I could do it," Dr. Waite said. 

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"A lot of times I think there was some regret in that moment like did I make the right decision?" she added. "When I processed what was happening and I was able to look at her body language and understand the component of her losing her sight. What the consequences of that would be and in general, she had been struggling with the weight of the games on her shoulders and the pressure building, I was like ‘oh she absolutely made the right decision.'" 

Dr. Waite is a Rice University graduate but is better known as an Olympic athlete, who represented Great Britain in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

"When I was competing, things were different," Dr. Waite said. "When Michael Jordan was competing and for males in general and athletes in general, it is tough it out, suck it up you know – you either do it or you are benched and you go home. That is not necessarily right and I think we are seeing a challenge to that narrative that has guided performances in the past."

She hopes athletes will now get the mental help earlier in their careers.

"If I would have known during competing that it is ok to raise your hand and scream mercy, it’s ok to take a step back instead of pushing and pushing and people they burn out, they give themselves chronic fatigue syndrome," Dr. Waite concluded. "And this is a step in saying, ‘hey you know we don’t have to do that. You can have great performance, a great sustainable career, and find some sort of mental balance with that physical excellence.’"