World-renown gymnast Simone Biles removed herself from the team finals for vault, uneven bars, and floor events this year, as she was undergoing mental struggles that would make it hard for her to execute her near impossible gymnastic routine. Biles said that the reason she withdrew is that she was suffering from a mental block known as the “twisties,” in which it is difficult for a gymnast to grasp their position in the air as they are performing. She did return, however, to win bronze on the balance beam. “I think that in this sport, protecting mental health is extremely important because no one wants to get hurt doing these huge skill like Simone does even if she is the best in the world,” senior and gymnastics athlete Kate Abbey said. “It’s really easy to get lost in what you’re doing if you are not right in the mindset.”
The Norwegian team for handball was fined this year for not playing in bikinis, with no explanation as to why they need to wear them by European Handball Association’s Disciplinary Commission. The team did receive a lot of support from other people as a result of this, which led to a rise in questioning this sexist rule’s existence in the first place. “As far as the Olympics go, I think the only uniform requirement they should have is wearing their jersey/number combo that the officials need to identify them. I would absolutely not want to play in a bikini. It’s revealing and probably uncomfortable, along with probably making athletes more self-conscious about their bodies,” said senior volleyball player Ella Freed.
Kevin McDowell won a silver medal for the Triathlon Mixed Relay, achieving the best ever showing in this event for the U.S. male. And the most impressive part? He did it only months after winning his 10-year long battle with cancer. The Olympics Triathlon Mixed Relay is an intense event, as participants must bike, swim and run on a shortened course, on top of having smooth transitions between teammates. “Growing up as a very successful junior triathlete, Kevin was expected to be fighting for the Junior World Championship title,” senior and triathlete Luke Anthony said. “ To be able to fight cancer, return to the sport, and then place as the the highest U.S. male we’ve ever had in triathlon, it shows true grit and determination.”