Local expert gives insight on Simone Biles situation

Jul 29, 2021, 5:42 PM
Simone Biles, Olympics...
Simone Biles, of the United States, watches gymnasts perform after an apparent injury, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. Biles withdrew from the team finals. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

SALT LAKE CITY — Simone Biles withdrew from the Olympics earlier this week to put her mental health back in order.

Intermountain Healthcare Sport Psychologist Dr. Tony Kemmochi provided some insight this week on why Biles removed herself from the competition. 

To Kemmochi, athletes have a natural instinct to seek out dominance.

“Because in sports a lot of people’s goals is to control your performance, optimal level of your performance and the outcome,” he said. “So it becomes second nature to need that.”

However, Kemmochi says there is a downside to having too much control mentally.

“If your mind gets used to having control, it doesn’t do well when the control goes out the window,” he explained. “And that is where Biles got into trouble. After her performance on the vault, Biles told reporters she “had no idea where I was in the air.”

And because of that moment, Kemmochi wasn’t surprised by Biles’ decision. 

“We know the Olympic environment is out of control,” he said. “It’s nothing they are used to. So I’m not surprised some athletes are having a strong reaction to it.”

Kemmochi says this controlling mindset begins when the athlete is very young. Additionally, he says it applies to all of society, such as succeeding in school.

“Our society has become this place where we expect a lot of outcomes,” he said.

In fact, Biles’ choice to pull out of the Games is one that Kemmochi is happy about.

“I’m personally excited,” he said. “And I really appreciate the athletes who have the courage to do this. The general public has been showing more and more interest in athletes’ mental health. That is one area that we have overlooked for many, many years.”

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Local expert gives insight on Simone Biles situation