‘Simone’s bravery is teaching us all a lesson,’ Colorado doctor and former gymnast commends Olympian

Sports

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — FOX31 is getting a greater perspective of why medical staffers are suggesting Simone Biles should withdraw from Olympic events.

Flips and perfect finishes initially made Biles a role model to so many. However, her latest decisions, prioritizing mental health on the world’s center stage at the Olympics is something sports medicine doctors hope young athletes can learn from.

“Simone’s bravery is teaching us all a lesson,” Dr. Emily Sweeney said. 

Before becoming a pediatric sports medicine doctor at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Sweeney was a level 10 gymnast.

“I have coached, and I’ve judged and I was a gymnast, so I have done a bunch of different aspects of it,” Sweeney said. 

Sweeney knows what Biles went through when she got the “twisties” as she has been through a similar situation. 

“Imagine, you go to a dentist for a procedure, and they numb one side of your mouth, and you look in the mirror and you know how to smile but no matter how hard you try you can’t smile, like your body won’t cooperate that’s how it feels like,” Sweeney said. “You know how to do these skills, but your body just won’t cooperate and it’s really frustrating.”

Sweeney commends Biles’ decisions, hoping they help break a pattern of athletes pushing themselves to the point of serious injury. She sees this pattern in her clinic and in studies.

“We did a study on former collegiate athletes, that over 58% of them had an injury that required surgery, so gymnastics has a lot of injuries so anything we can do to try to minimize those,” Sweeney said. 

Sweeney’s study on collegiate athletes also showed that the risk of needing surgery went up by a lot if athletes specialized in a sport at an earlier age. She says sampling multiple sports when you are younger is important for skill development and physical health.

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