- Age24, 23, 36
- TitleOlympic Athletes
The world had expectations for Simone Biles, the 24-year-old gymnast widely considered the “greatest of all time,” at this year’s Tokyo Games—and they were not that she’d spend an Olympic press conference speaking about her mental health. But in her fearless decision to withdraw from competition, and her remarkably candid discussion of why she made that choice, she joined Michael Phelps (36) and Naomi Osaka (23) in unleashing a revolution in the world of sports: reminding us that athletes—no matter how physically tough and prodigiously talented—are vulnerable humans, too.
But more than taking on the media-heightened myth of the invincible athlete, these champions are leading a long overdue conversation on the importance of mental health and destigmatizing a subject that, even in a nation suffering from epidemic levels of depression and anxiety, has for too long remained in the shadows. To do so in the brightest of spotlights—at the Olympic Games and Wimbledon, and in Phelps’s case, in the documentary The Weight of Gold—is a true act of strength.