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Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 | When sport is not everything

He couldn’t take it anymore and decided to prioritize his mental health over continuing to suffer in the competition, knowing that his mind was not ready to be part of the full gymnastics contest. One of the great stars of the Olympic Games, the American Simone biles It surprised fans, accustomed to excellence from a sportswoman who had dominated her discipline with authority since her explosion in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.

There were five Olympic medals, four of them gold and a brilliant rise to the top of world stardom, when he was only 19 years old. A weight that he has managed to manage successfully for a long time, until he finally said enough. His reaction, supported by great athletes like Pau Gasol or Novak Djokovic Among others, it has opened a debate and requires an analysis, in order to help athletes know how to manage their mental health and emotions, to face a competition as demanding from the point of view of the head as the Olympic Games, but, above all Everything, so that the wear and tear that it can generate does not affect them in the rest of their lives, since, above anything else, they are people. “I was not mentally prepared”, analyzed Biles in the subsequent press conference, “it is okay to miss a competition to focus on oneself”. Naomi Osaka also stayed away from the circuit from Roland-Garros due to mental health issues, with a return in the Japanese capital that has not ended in the best way, after being in charge of lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremony.

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Another clear example, which can perfectly show the mental struggle that athletes are subjected to when preparing and facing an appointment of these characteristics, is that of the Spanish Nikoloz Sherazadishvili, in the category of -90 kilos in judo that, after arriving with the double world champion vitola, was eliminated in the quarterfinals and ended up falling in the first fight for the repechage that gave him the option to continue fighting to reach the medal of bronze. In sports, in life, many times things do not go the way one would like and for the judoka from Brunete it was simply not his day.

His subsequent reaction, heartbroken and really not wanting to “see a tatami again”, at least for a certain period of time, makes us see the toughness of highly competitive sport, in which success or failure is measured only for your performance on a particular day, at a particular time. Niko will probably not get out of his head this day and will have to deal with it as he begins his preparations for Paris 2024, highlighting the importance, increasingly, of sports psychology when preparing for an Olympic Games.

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But how would we feel if our performance and the way everyone judges it were measured by performance in a single competition, which takes place every four years? Many of the disciplines that are played for medals in the Olympic Games do not receive the overwhelming media attention that they can experience on a date like Tokyo, with the addition of not knowing if they were finally going to be celebrated due to the pandemic. The demand for medals is brutal and many times it is forgotten that the athletes who represent our colors are people, who suffer, who sacrifice, who fight, who can win and can lose, and who have to manage a cascade of emotions that hardly Can you imagine someone who has not lived what it is like to fight for the Olympic dream.

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To all this, we must add one more variant to the equation, the youth of many of them, seeing in Tokyo medalists who were barely 14 or 15 years old in skateboarding, or disciplines where the maximum potential is developed at a very young age, such as gymnastics. Simone Biles is only 24 years old and is already a veteran who could be facing the last Games of her entire sports career.

After sports, life goes on and everything that has been experienced in sports career remains as a residue when facing what comes next. Gestures like that of Biles put the focus on an aspect that until not long ago was taboo, indeed, always there had been talk of mental strength when defining a good athlete. Perhaps it is time to abandon this idea and help face the unbridled emotions that can leave both victory and defeat, because there are times when sport is not everything and health is far above.

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