Philippines' Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz on Thursday said she respected American gymnast Simone Biles' decision to withdraw from the team competition at the Tokyo Olympics to protect her mental health.
Athletes' struggles with mental health has become one of the talking points of the Olympics. Earlier this year, top tennis player Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open, also citing mental health concerns.
When asked what Diaz thought of the withdrawals, she had this to say: "Di ko din alam yung nararamdaman nila kasi baka may nararamdaman sila. Syempre pag ganon, kung ano ang priority nila," she said.
(I also don't know how they feel because they might be going through something. If it's like that, it's their priority.)
"Baka ang priority nila yung mental health nila. Kasi syempre, para sakin, pressure sa Olympics sobrang taas lalung-lalo na kay Simone [Biles], kasi syempre nanalo na siya sa Rio Olympics and yung expectation sa kanya sobrang taas na," she added.
(Maybe their priority is their mental health. Of course, for me, pressure for the Olympics is so high, and especially for Simone, because she already won at the Rio Olympics and the expectations on her are already very high.)
"Kailangan respetuhin pa rin. Kahit ako na-shock ako, kasi syempre ang dami niyang medal na na-iuwi nung 2016. Kahit ako hoping na marami rin siyang medal ngayong medal na ma-iuwi."
(The decision must be respected still. Even I was shocked, because, of course, she brought home so many medals in 2016. Even I was hoping that she would bring home a lot of medals this time too.)
The weightlifter mentioned the risk athletes face every time they push their bodies, saying that Biles may have been worried about being severly injured for a medal.
Diaz also said that Biles may have thought the risk of injuring herself further was not worth it. "Hindi worth it yung medal na yon para ma-save ang sarili niya. Ako ni-rerespeto ko kung ano yung desisyon niya kasi siya yung nag-desisyon non," she said.
(The medal is not worth it to save herself. I respect her decision because she decided for herself.)
Diaz, having successfully clinched the Philippines its first Olympic gold in 97 years with a record-breaking 127-kilogram lift, said athletes go through so much physically, mentally, and emotionally. It may seem unlikely for the world's physically fit and elite to doubt themselves or be affected by hate, but "tao din kaming mga atleta. May emosyon din kami," she said.
(Us athletes are human too. We have emotions too.)