American swimmer Katie Ledecky expressed empathy for Simone Biles as she is under as much pressure in the pool as Biles is in the gym.
Ledecky told USA Today on Wednesday that everyone who’s competing at the Olympics is feeling some kind of pressure that is putting a strain on their mental health given that most of the world is watching.
“I would never want to speak for Simone or say that I know what she’s feeling because none of us do, but I understand it. We’re at the highest level, we have the most eyes on us of anyone in the world right now. I’m not just saying us as in Simone and me, I’m saying everyone at the Olympics. I mean everyone around the world is watching. Certainly, Simone has so many eyes on her and the cameras follow you around. I experienced that on days like today,” she said.
Ledecky said she can feel the world watching as she moves through competition after competition.
Biles dropped out of the gymnastics team final on Tuesday and then, on Wednesday, USA Gymnastics said Biles would not compete in the individual all-around on Thursday citing mental health reasons.
Ledecky expressed hope that Biles would be back in action soon.
“I have no doubt in my mind that she’s going to be back, hopefully this week,” she told USA Today. “I don’t know. I saw the news and I have no idea of her condition or her mental state or anything, but I really hope that she continues to do what’s best for her and that the people around her, her coaches, her teammates, continue to support her. I know that the Team USA swimmers certainly support her and the US gymnastics team and all of our teammates.”
Biles said Tuesday her mental wasn’t right going into the competition and after the first vault she decided to pull out.
“No injury thankfully, and that’s why I took a step back because I didn’t want to do something silly out there and get injured,” she said, via Olympics.com. So I thought it was best that these girls took over and did the rest of the job, which they absolutely did — they’re Olympic silver medalists. They should be really proud of themselves for how well they did.”
Biles, who remarked in a social media post about the pressure she was feeling while in Tokyo, reiterated the stress that has been put on her and her teammates’ shoulders.
“It’s been a really stressful Olympic Games as a whole; not having an audience — there are a lot of different variables going into it [the Games],” she said. “It’s been a long week; it’s been a long Olympic process/year. I think we’re a little bit too stressed out. We should be out here having fun, and sometimes that’s not the case.
“Today has been really stressful, we had a workout this morning; it went OK but during that five-and-a-half hour wait I was shaking – I could barely nap. I had never felt like that going into a competition before. I tried to go out here and have fun; the warmup in the back went a little bit better but once I came out here I was like, ‘no, mentals [sic] not here so I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.’”
She added she was taking things day-by-day.