Olympians open up about mental health while preparing for Tokyo 2020

Japan 2020


TOKYO (Nexstar) — From the initial postponement of the Games to the now daily COVID-19 tests — it’s been a long journey for Olympians vying for a gold medal this summer.

“It’s kind of this crazy super rollercoaster ride of things,” said Alison Gibson, a Team USA synchronized diver.

With many having their training interrupted by the pandemic, athletes faced a new challenge. Not only did they have to keep their body in shape an extra year, but also had to maintain their mental well being. 

“Our minds are so unique, and each case is so different, so I think it needs to be normalized that yeah, anyone can really struggle with mental health,” said swimmer Erica Sullivan.

For some, it’s an ongoing battle, including for Team USA boxer Ginny Fuchs, who has been open about living with obsessive-compulsive disorder and the struggles that come with it.

She’s not the only one. “It’s O.K. not to be O.K.” is what tennis star Naomi Osaka’s TIME magazine cover reads.

Citing mental health, Australia’s basketball star Liz Cambage dropped out of the Games. The thought of the Olympic bubble was giving her “panic attacks.”

Get the latest on how our Texans are doing in the Olympics by signing up for push alerts on the KXAN News App and our More Than The Score newsletter. Join us at noon every weekday for our Japan 2020 stream highlighting memorable moments and KXAN’s team in Tokyo.

For some in Tokyo, they have support. 

“What helps me with nerves and anxiety is that I am very fortunate to have eight other women that I am racing with,” said Gia Doonan with Team USA Women’s Eights Rowing.

But others are on their own, like 100m runner Fred Kerley. He understands it can be tough, but he works to remind himself to never give up. 

“Keep pushing, because there are always brighter days, and there’re always dark days, but no matter what, keep on going,” Kerley said.

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