A Minute with Drexel: Medals and mental health

A Minute with Drexel

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Every four years, we hear stories of athletes who’ve worked their entire life for the opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games. This year, the narrative took an unexpected turn when one of those athletes walked off the Olympic floor, more concerned about her mental health than about a medal. Her decision sparked a lot of conversation about mental health and that’s a good thing because it’s opened a door for people with similar concerns to talk about it without embarrassment, and to seek help.

But it occurred to me over the course of these events that there are some other “character” lessons we can learn from this.

For instance, Simone Biles modeled the kind of courage we may all need at some time in our lives to walk away from something we want so badly because it is causing emotional, physical or spiritual harm, and also to seek help.

Secondly, she modeled honesty and integrity when she owned her decision. She didn’t run and hide but she stood in the spotlight and answered all the questions and submitted to the scrutiny. Then she stepped it up a notch to become her teammate’s biggest cheerleader.

Speaking of that team, they’ve taught us the importance of taking care of the people you care about when they are in trouble and of supporting them, even if the decisions they have to make put you in an uncomfortable situation. They also demonstrated the importance of carrying on the mission with strength and a smile.

Finally, we learned that yes, indeed, when one door closes another may open, even in an unexpected way. With Simone out of the mix, a young athlete who wasn’t even supposed to be in the all-around competition ended up winning the gold medal, because she was prepared and she stepped up.

Courage, integrity, strength, commitment, honesty, and the importance of being prepared. The fact that sometimes “it’s okay to not be okay” and to ask for help. Lessons for all of us from the gymnastics floor. Lessons that are worth their weight in “gold.” And that’s your minute with Drexel.

If you have a topic you’d like Drexel to address, email her at dgilbert@wkrg.com.

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