GLASTONBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Not only did Simone Biles come to Japan as the most heralded American athlete, but maybe as the biggest star of the entire Olympics. Think for just a minute of what those expectations must be like for the 24-year-old.
Glastonbury native Donn Cabral is a two-time Olympian. Even he finds it difficult to comprehend.
“If you’re struggling with a mental health issue already, and then you add on something else? I can’t fathom that,” Cabral said.
USA Gymnastics announced today that Biles will return to do the last event final, balance beam tomorrow night. It’ll mark the first competition for the four-time gold medalist since she withdrew from the women’s team final last Tuesday, citing concerns over her mental health and physical safety.
Cabral excelled in cross country and track. He was the 2012 NCAA steeplechase champion, and competed in both the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics in the steeplechase.
He said another layer of factors that athletes like the 24-year-old Biles feel today is competing on the biggest stage under the microscope of social media.
“I think when you’ve grown up as that entire generation has, constantly being aware of what people think of you. We have to understand that, that changes the way that you interact with the world. And, for her to get out there and be as big of a champion as she is, and do what she [has] done over the years, we’ve got to give her credit and realize that it’s that much harder than it is, even for me at 31,” Cabral said.
Biles is the reigning world champion on balance beam. She is up third in the eight-person final.