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Young gymnasts react to Simon Biles withdrawing from Olympics

The sport is growing in popularity, and so is the pressure mounting on young athletes across the county.
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:09 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Young gymnasts are sharing their reaction after Simon Biles, the most decorated gymnast in history, opted to pull out of the team and individual all-around finals at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I was shocked,” said Amanda Page, 16. “I think she is an icon for everyone.”

Page is a gymnast at Aerial Express Gymnastics in Monroe. She said she can relate to the pressure that comes with the sport.

“You know that you can do it, but it’s hard to get past a point when you have doubt in yourself,” said Page.

Page and others rely on their coach, Karla Eschleman, for support and encouragement.

“When they do that we usually tell them that it’s okay and remember the progressions, and to work their way back up,” said Karla Eschleman, the head coach and co-owner of Aerial Express Gymnastics. “When you start doubting yourself then you let your mind rule your body and when you start to do that it can be dangerous to yourself.”

The sport is growing in popularity, and so is the pressure mounting on young athletes across the county.

Counselor and psychotherapist, Erin Wiley, owner of The Willow Center in Toledo, said Biles and other Olympians are dealing with the weight of the world watching.

“I think it’s important for any athlete, high-performance individual, including arts, academically, in medicine, have someone who is a safe sounding board who can give you a lot of room to explore your feelings and potential choices you might want to make,” said Wiley. “Having that open door to explore those things will help you be a more balanced individual.”

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