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SAU Students Applaud Olympic Gymnast for Putting Mental Health First

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Gabby Douglas, a former Olympic competitor, has announced her return to competition after prioritizing her mental health. 

In 2016, the Rio Olympic Games was the last time Douglas competed. She was a leader in Team USA, earning a gold medal. 

After the Rio Olympics, she decided to leave competition, saying her mental health became more important than the desire to compete. The need to take care of her mental health was more important than her desire to compete.  

SAU students shared their feelings towards Douglas’s battle with mental health and returning to compete.

SAU Junior Haylee Thurmond says “Her decision to return to competing is a testament to her dedication and passion for gymnastics. Such a decision comes after considerable thought about her physical and mental health.”

Senior student Allison Teske adds “It is great that she’s decided to return to competitive gymnastics. It will be exciting to watch her compete in the upcoming season.” 

Likewise to Teske, Chase Mason says age isn’t a factor. “I think it is admirable that she is trying to make a comeback. I look forward to seeing her work as a leader for the younger members of the team as well as competing.”

In agreement with Teske and Mason, Abigail Messina believes “It is a good decision because she has had much success.” 

Douglas has made a name for herself and with wanting to return to competitions has created a lot of attention and opinions.

Mental health played a previous role in Douglas’s life which she says forced her to make a choice; competition or her health. 

Thurmond adds “Taking a break from athletics is not only okay, but necessary. Athletes experience immense pressure and stress often from the high expectations and rigorous demands of competitive sports.” 

Megan McConnaughy agrees by adding “As an athlete, I believe it is valid to take a break if needed. Sports are so mind consuming and it really is important to value mental health.”

“As an athlete myself, I feel like I always take breaks for mental health. It’s important to make sure your mental health is okay because sports can pressure you and make it worse,” Messina adds.

Douglas has taken time off from competitions for nearly 12 years. She has aged and also not been in competition’s for a while. 

SAU students have their feelings towards time taken off and whether or not age is something that plays a factor in performance.

Gymnastics is a sport that demands agility, strength, and flexibility, and with age comes a decrease in both factors. 

In McConnaughy’s view, “I feel that she did not stop practicing gymnastics completely when she stopped competing. I think that she still has the ability to perform well.” Similarly Thurmond says, “Athletes make comebacks and perform at high levels even though it is undoubtedly a challenge.”

Teske agrees “I do not think that her age or time off will be a limitation for her since she has been competing for a long time. She may need to adjust, but she will still be competitive.” 

Disagreeing with Teske, Mason says it could be an uphill battle at Douglas’s age of 28. “While I do wish her the best in competing, it is very hard to maintain peak performance levels. It may be difficult for her to compete at the same level but she will still be fun to watch and draw in a crowd.” 

Some of society may not agree with Douglas’s decision to return. She will still have some prior fans but it is also possible that she obtains some backlash. 

Messina reacts by saying “I believe society will have its judgements which is unfortunate, but in my opinion, I know she will give it her all.” 

Thurmond mentions “The majority of society will hopefully react positively. Her story could be seen as incredibly inspirational and passionate. Her journey could encourage a supportive path with other athletes in similar positions.” 

“I feel the majority of society will be excited for her and will be rooting for her,” says Teske. Mason also says along the same lines “I think people will be shocked and excited to cheer her on.”

After Douglas’s initial announcement of returning, it brought along a new devastating post. 

On February 22nd, just two days before a qualifier event to the 2024 Olympics, Douglas posted her positive results of Covid.

In her post, she writes “I’m crushed but I’ll see you guys soon” and with that wording, she is hoping to show her viewers that she wants to return soon.