Olympic great Allyson Felix inspired by Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles' decision to prioritize mental health

Allyson Felix at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Allyson Felix at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Rohit R

In a recent interview with CNN, track and field legend Allyson Felix expressed her pride at Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles for standing up for themselves and taking control of the narrative around their lives.

Felix revealed she felt particularly inspired by their decision to speak openly about their struggles with mental health, an aspect that athletes rarely talk about in public. Osaka set the ball rolling with her decision to skip press conferences at Roland Garros, saying they had an adverse impact on her mental well-being.

Gymnastics icon Simone Biles followed Naomi Osaka's lead and withdrew from several events at the Tokyo Olympics citing mental health reasons. Felix stated that the "invincible" aura that athletes have had for a long time is not accurate as they have to deal with the same issues that plague a majority of the population.

"I think for a long time, you know, athletes have just been seen as invincible, and we're no different than anybody else and we go through struggles and challenges," Felix said.

Felix added that prioritizing mental health and knowing when to take a step back is crucial. The American said she knows when to take some time off and lean on her support system when she gets overwhelmed, an approach that has helped her become one of the most decorated athletes of all time.

"I think really making it a priority, making our mental health a priority and understanding when you're not OK and what are the steps and what works for you. I know when I have to lean into my support system, when I need to step away. Kind of what helps me to be able to thrive and taking that time and taking that space for myself," she added.

Naomi Osaka hits practice courts once again

Naomi Osaka with her 2021 Australian Open Trophy.
Naomi Osaka with her 2021 Australian Open Trophy.

Naomi Osaka's extended hiatus following the US Open gave rise to speculation that she might not return to the court for the foreseeable future. However, the four-time Grand Slam champion recently posted pictures of herself practicing, indicating that she's ready to make a return and defend her Australian Open crown next year.

The 24-year-old stated that it felt "good to be back", which is significant as her decision to take a break from the tour was due to the fact that she did not enjoy competing.

Osaka won her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open this year and she will be a firm favorite to lift the title in Melbourne next season if she decides to make the trip.

Edited by Arvind Sriram
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