From our correspondent in the United States,

Earthquake on the planet gym.

The invincible Simone Biles, four-time gold medalist in Rio and considered the GOAT (

Greatest of all times

) in her discipline, withdrew from the team competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday after a failed jump on horseback. 'pommels.

Physically, all is well for the American gymnast who explained that she was fighting "the demons in [her] head", after writing the day before on Instagram that she felt she was carrying "the weight of the world on [her] ] shoulders ”.

Simone Biles, who has already won titles with broken toes, this time made the choice to leave her place rather than risk injury or lead her teammates - who won the money - by not being not 100%.

And even if a few voices, mainly among American conservatives, criticize this new generation of athletes who are too “tender”, citing gymnast Kerri Strug, who won gold on an ankle in 1996, as an example, Simone Biles' decision to protecting her mental health, two months after Naomi Osaka's withdrawal from Roland Garros, has been widely praised in the United States.

Particularly by the African American community.

A taboo in the African-American community

Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe, Andrés Iniesta, Mark Cavendish, DeMar DeRozan… Big names in sport have confessed to having suffered from depression or anxiety during their careers. Some lost the fight, like the American Kelly Catlin (silver medalist in the team cycling pursuit in Rio) who committed suicide in 2019, ten years after German goalkeeper Robert Enke. Impossible not to mention Christophe Dominici, who died suddenly at the end of 2020 with his "bruises to the soul" and the suicide thesis favored by the investigators.

And if talking about mental health has long been seen as an admission of weakness among athletes, it is even truer among black athletes. “I'm with Simone Biles. I am with Naomi Osaka. Your health and well-being matter. You remind black women that we have the right to take care of ourselves, ”writes African-American elected official Cori Bush. "Black women are often expected to overcome obstacles to the detriment of their well-being and their mental health," adds Strong Black Lead, Netflix's influential Twitter account for the promotion of black creators. George Floyd's family lawyer Ben Crump is in tune: “Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Raven Saunders speak openly about their battle for their sanity. By sharing their story, they help tackle this taboo.I am sure their commitment will have an impact on future generations. "

Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Raven Saunders are openly speaking about their struggle with mental health.

By sharing their stories, they're diminishing the stigma surrounding it.

I'm certain that this growing advocacy will impact generations to come!

- Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) July 24, 2021

The African-American psychiatrist Christine Crawford recently explained the origins of this distrust of a large part of the black community towards her profession.

Several socio-economic factors play a role, in particular access to good health coverage.

But the stigma dates back, she said, to slavery with the widespread belief in the medical community that black slaves could not suffer depression with their supposedly inferior intellect.

Many African Americans still treat mental illness as a weakness and seek guidance more from their religious leaders than from the medical community.

"The burden of perfection"

Simon Biles, whose unlikely stunts seem to defy gravity, recalled in a brief press conference that athletes are not aliens:

Ultimately, we are human beings.

We need to protect our body and mind, rather than just doing what the world expects of us.


In the

New York Times

long portrait


Simone Biles, or the burden of perfection

, released this week, the gymnast is back on the weight of the Olympian expectations placed on his shoulders.

By her fans, the federation, and herself.

The one who openly confided to having gone through a depressive episode in 2018 after announcing that she too was a survivor of the sexual abuse of ex-doctor Larry Nassar, told the American daily that her moments of greatest joy are have taken place "outside the gym" in recent years.

Will we see Simon Biles in individual Thursday, she who is qualified for the finals of the four apparatus and the general competition?

The American superstar said she would see "day to day".

Perhaps the gymnast will find inspiration in the words of African-American poet Maya Angellou tattooed on her right collarbone: “And still I rise”.

This is all the harm we wish him.


Olympic Games Tokyo 2021: Under pressure, gymnast Simone Biles gives up to face "demons in her head"

  • Health

  • Depression

  • Tokyo Olympics 2021

  • Gymnastic

  • Sport