Simone Biles

Biles Overcomes Mental Health Battle To Win Olympic Bronze

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Simone Biles

Simone Biles took bronze in the beam final won by Chinese teenager Guan Chenchen at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, after making her long-awaited return to the Olympic Games on Tuesday.

It was the US superstar’s first taste of competition in Tokyo since dramatically standing down during the women’s team final last week, struggling with the “twisties”, a condition meaning gymnasts lose the ability to orientate themselves in mid-air.

Prime Business Africa had, in its Editorial of Monday, August 2, 2021, referenced Biles’ mental health scenario in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics and argued that it had become a socio-economic issue requiring urgent attention by African governments.

The Editorial noted that everywhere in Africa, experts have made a direct connection between mental health and social problems such as unemployment, political instability, inequality, social unrest, wars, conflicts and ethnic crises.

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It said the pressures, frustrations, stress and traumas that come from these problems often force many, especially the youth, into drug abuse, social deviance, and political thuggery. At the worst end of mental illness, patients live in dehumanizing conditions, dejected as criminals and outcasts. Itinerant ones are treated as outright mad or social miscreants; many are locked away in mental homes, which serve as dignified prisons to clear the streets of nuisance.

The Editorial then suggested that it’s high time we spoke the language of mental health in Africa, or we soon all wake up to a totally deranged society.

It was Biles’ seventh Olympic medal, equaling Shannon Miller’s record for an American gymnast.

The four-time gold medalist from the Rio Games received a huge cheer from her US teammates when she entered the arena.

And again when the stadium announcer said: “And now, representing the United States….Simone Biles..”

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She looked pensive on her comeback as she waited for her turn to climb up onto the 10cm wide beam for her 90-second routine.

Without performing any twists, she put in a solid performance, ending with a double backward somersault, double pike dismount.

Her face breaking into a broad grin, she waved after earning 14.000 points.

She was second behind Tang Xijing until 16-year-old Guan, the last of the eight finalists to go, put in a superb display to take gold with 14.633 points, relegating Biles to bronze.

Olympic chief Thomas Bach was one of the first to congratulate her on her comeback, after her Tokyo nightmare ended in smiles on the third rung of the beam podium.

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