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Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka put spotlight on athletes' mental health, local athlete says open conversation is crucial

Mental health struggles can impact performance
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Posted at 11:14 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 23:14:52-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka have put a spotlight on mental health issues athletes face. Sports psychology consultant Kellie Peiper said talking to young athletes about their mental health is crucial.

“I think it’s paramount to anything else they can learn about themselves right now,” Peiper said. “It’s a great blessing to be talented and set up for success like that, but it’s also a huge grind.”

Ava Curry is a gymnast at Buffalo Turners Gymnastics and said this year has been hard on her and some of her teammates.

“We’re very open about mental health and trying to all about it because everybody goes through it and if you don’t talk about it, we do just shut down,” Curry said.

Curry’s coach says mental health was never talked about when she was a gymnast, but it can have a big impact on performance.

“In a sport like this, you’re flipping 20 feet in the air, flipping three or four times, if you’re not mentally ready for it, it’s dangerous,” Buffalo Turners Gymnastics head coach Turia Morz said.

But now athletes don’t always have the option to completely disconnect.

“They’re always on and they’re always getting that feedback through social media,” Peiper said.

Curry says she wants young gymnasts to know it’s okay to have bad days.

“If you’re having an off day, maybe don’t push yourself the hardest, take a step back, maybe try again later,” Curry said.