Olympic Legend Allyson Felix sympathizes with Naomi Osaka over mental health concerns

Naomi Osaka and American athlete Allyson Felix
Naomi Osaka and American athlete Allyson Felix
Anshul Singh

Olympic great Allyson Felix recently opened up about mental health issues in sport, citing the example of Naomi Osaka. Felix said she can relate to the four-time Grand Slam champion and highlighted that "a lot of high-level athletes" face these kinds of mental health problems.

Naomi Osaka made the headlines when she said she did not want to give press conferences at the 2021 French Open because it was damaging to her mental health. When authorities didn't heed the request, the Japanese star decided to withdraw from the Grand Slam and later skipped the Wimbledon Championships as well.

Renowned American athlete Allyson Felix, who bagged her 11th Olympic medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, was recently asked to give her opinion on mental health in sport today. The 36-year-old explained that many athletes experience mental stress when they fail to win because of the high expectations fans have of them.

Allyson Felix just became the most decorated female track athlete after winning bronze in the 400-meter final at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I completely understand that! It’s really interesting. I think a lot of high-level athletes can relate to that. It’s almost like when you go through a defeat or some type of loss, it’s so big and it seems so heavy, and when you are already on that level and you win, everyone expects you to win,” said Felix in an interview with Cero Magazine.

In the same interview, Felix talked about the joy but mainly relief she felt when finally winning a gold medal in 2012. She also emphasized the importance of enjoying the process and not just the result.

Alysson Felix after winning gold at the 2012 Olympics
Alysson Felix after winning gold at the 2012 Olympics
“I remember winning in 2012 and crossing the line, and it was a joy, but it was also a big relief as well to finally have that moment happen. I think because it was something I was going after for so long and I had built it up to be this amazing feeling, it didn’t quite live up to the years of chasing it. It’s in the process, that’s when you’re growing and when you’re stretching, and you don’t want to miss that because it’s so valuable,” added the American athlete.

Naomi Osaka begins training for the 2022 tennis season

Naomi Osaka recently hit the training courts in Los Angeles with Martin Redlicki, a UCLA collegiate tennis player. In a recent video, one can see her hitting serves and practicing her forehand in order to regain her form ahead of the upcoming season.

Osaka's name is on the participants' list for the 2022 Australian Open, where she will be defending her title. Last year, she crushed Serena Williams in straight sets in the semifinals before enjoying an easy victory against Jennifer Brady in the finals of the Grand Slam.

Naomi Osaka during a training session
Naomi Osaka during a training session

It will be interesting to see how the Japanese star fares on her return to the sport.

Also read: "Mental health doesn't mean mental toughness" - Andy Roddick slams Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka's critics

Edited by Nihal Taraporvala


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