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Olympians supporting Olympians is always the energy we want to see, but recent remarks from swimmer Michael Phelps about gymnast Simone Biles have really won the gold medal in our hearts.
Phelps, 36, the most decorated Olympian of all time, spoke candidly to People about how “powerful” Biles was for speaking out about her mental health this past summer at the Tokyo Olympics.
Fans of the best gymnast of all time will remember that Biles withdrew from some events during the Games for fear of injuring herself because her mental state was not in the best standing. “I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and my well-being,” she said at one point, adding that she didn’t “trust” herself not to make a wrong move.
Of her candor, Phelps said: "As somebody who's struggled with depression and anxiety, opening up and talking about mental health is a big, powerful step forward toward blowing the stigma out of the water. It's more powerful than we can imagine."
He went on to say that he was sure fans and viewers were surprised that somebody like Biles went “through what she went through,” but emphasized that it helps people process how mental health works.
"A lot of people may not understand how mental health works and how it's not really like a switch that you can turn on and off. It comes and goes whenever it really wants to," he shared, stressing that the mental health community needs “more people to open up and continue to break this wall down" so stigmas can be broken.
Phelps also said that his work with mental health awareness is “bigger than anything I ever have done in the pool.”
"Being able to have the opportunity to help somebody and potentially save their life is absolutely everything, because I know what that feels like to not want to be alive," he said.
As for where Biles stands now, she recently told Us Weekly that she’s open to the prospect of training for the Olympics again, but only if she can keep her mental health in check.
“If we can keep that under control, I would love to train again," she said. "But then, at the end of the day, if it costs me my peace, I’m going to step away. And I’m completely fine with stepping away because I’ve been through so much. I’ve accomplished so much.”