‘She can be a role model’: Psychologist, former Olympian weighs in on mental pressures of professional athletes following Simone Biles’ withdraw from Olympics

In a sport where physical injuries are well understood, Simone Biles may have just opened the door to better understanding the extreme mental pressure professional athletes feel and she’s at a level where she can call it quits and still be respected, according to University St. Thomas Director of Applied Sport and Performance Psychology Lennie Waite.

How’s that for being the G.O.A.T.?

Regardless of what she does, she has so many gold medals and she can be a role model,” Waite said.

Here’s what Simone said about making the decision:

“We had a workout this morning - It went ok and then just that 5-and-a-half hour wait I was just shaking. I could barely nap. I’ve just never felt like this going into a competition before and I tried to go out here and have fun. The warm-up in the back went a little better but once I came out here I was like: ‘No - Mental is not there. So I need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.’”

Waite says this mental hiccup could be as monumental as her gold medals in the Rio Olympics.

“I’m proud of the coaching staff for being able to put Simone first as a person, even though we really wanted her to have her best athletic performances today,” Waite said.