Aly Raisman is expressing support for her former teammate ahead of Simone Biles’ return to competition on the balance beam.
After withdrawing from the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise finals, Biles is back — and she’s no stranger to the final women’s event. She has won three World Championship gold medals on the balance beam and took home bronze at the 2016 Olympics.
“The fact she’s even going to step up onto the mat again is so amazing,” Raisman said in an interview with NBC’s ‘TODAY’ Show. “She has so much to be proud of.”
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Biles and other athletes have shed an important light on mental health, Raisman added, a conversation she said didn’t exist when she competed.
The six-time Olympic medalist has since noticed changes in how performances are judged. Media outlets, for example, now emphasize someone “won the silver medal” as opposed to saying “they lost the gold,” Raisman noted.
Regardless of an athlete’s skill, Raisman emphasized they are human.
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“I didn’t even understand that I was feeling any type of anxiety or depression,” said Raisman, the captain of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics teams. “I felt when I was competing my whole worth was revolved around how I competed at the Olympics.”
Raisman called for more mental health resources before, during and also after the Games.
“I would love to see more programs in place to help athletes know they are more than just their sport,” Raisman said.
Laurie Hernandez echoed Raisman’s support for Biles in a separate interview on the show.
“We support her no matter what,” Hernandez said. “It doesn’t matter the outcome, she is an incredible athlete.”
A silver medalist in 2016 on the beam, Hernandez said the “twisties” should be less of a safety hazard in that event.
"For starters, it is upright," Hernandez said. "When you are on bars, you are swinging upside down consistently."
“I think beam is probably the safest route in terms of doing skills that don’t have too many twists,” Hernandez continued. “I’m curious to see what she'll do for her dismount, but I have a feeling she’s going to do really well."