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As Biles Returns to Win Bronze In Tokyo, Atlanta Sports Psychologist Dives Into Mental Health Conversations

In this July 27, 2021 file photo, Simone Biles, of the United States, watches gymnasts perform after she exited the team final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo.
In this July 27, 2021 file photo, Simone Biles, of the United States, watches gymnasts perform after she exited the team final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo.
Credit Ashley Landis / AP Photo

Atlanta clinical sports psychologist Dr. Kensa Gunter works with athletes at all levels — from high school to Atlanta Hawks players — who talk about their own mental health, in and out of competition.

U.S. gymnast Simone Biles said her mental health was the reason she withdrew from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics last month. One phenomenon the legendary U.S. gymnast said she was experiencing: the “twisties.” That’s where a gymnast is no longer able to use muscle memory to do a routine. As Biles twisted and tumbled, she described physically getting lost in the air. Retired gymnasts and Olympic athletes came out of the woodwork to support Biles and talk about similar mental blocks.

https://twitter.com/Simone_Biles/status/1420561448883802118?s=20

Biles did return to the balance beam final in Tokyo Tuesday morning, in time to win bronze.

But Dr. Gunter says the conversation Biles sparked about athletes’ mental health, should continue way past the spotlight at the summer Olympics. She joined WABE on “All Things Considered.”