Rory Mcllroy backs Simone Biles for prioritising mental health over competing, emphasises pressure gymnast was under
Rory Mcllroy, who is representing Ireland at the Games, said he had noticed how much pressure Simone Biles was on from before the Games began and praised the US gymnast and tennis player Naomi Osaka for prioritising their mental wellbeing above competing. You want it? We have it. Stream every Olympic event live on discovery+.
Golfer Rory McIlroy has said he "100 percent" supported Simone Biles' decision to withdraw from two Olympic gymnastics events, emphasising the pressure the 24-year-old was under.
Biles, who won six medals including four golds at the 2016 Rio Games, pulled out of the team event during the competition to protect her mental health and then withdrew from the all-around individual event which she was favourite to win.
McIlroy, who is representing Ireland at the Games and began his medal bid in the individual golf tournament on Wednesday, said he had noticed how much pressure Biles was on from before the Games began.
"I live in the United States and anything that came on the TV with NBC or commercials about the Olympics, it was Simone Biles, it was Simone Biles' Olympics, right?" McIlroy told reporters.
"So to have the weight of, what is it, total six million people combined in the island of Ireland. You've got 300 whatever million, so the weight on her shoulders is massive."
Biles has said that tennis star Naomi Osaka's decision to pull out of the French Open and Wimbledon earlier this year over mental health concerns had given her the courage to withdraw from her events, and McIlroy said he was impressed with both athletes' stance.
"And just as I thought Naomi Osaka was right to do what she did at the French Open and take that time off and get herself in the right place, I 100 per cent agree with what Simone is doing as well," he said.
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"You have to put yourself in the best position physically and mentally to be at your best and if you don't feel like you're at that or you're in that position then you're going to have to make those decisions.
"I'm certainly very impressed, especially with those two women to do what they did and put themselves first."
Mcllroy, the former world number one, said he had found the pressure he has been subjected to over his career to be "unpleasant" but recognised every athlete was different.
He said: "Is it unpleasant at times for me? Yes. But that's just a part of what I do and where I find myself in my career.
"Some people just have thicker skin than some others and can maybe just handle it a little better and are predisposed to handle it better. But some people have to know when enough's enough and I'm glad that at least the conversation has started.
'All that hype takes its toll' - Team USA back Biles after star's withdrawal
"There's been a few athletes that have really spoken up, Michael Phelps, Kevin Love, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles. I mean the conversation, it's not taboo anymore.
"People can talk about it just as somebody has a knee or elbow injury, if you don't feel 100 per cent right mentally that's an injury too."
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