SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - The co-head team doctor for the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team is now at the center of the biggest story to come out of the Tokyo Olympics.
World champion gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the games because of mental health issues, and a UC Davis doctor helped her to make that brave decision.
"I was shaking...could barely nap. I never felt like this going into a competition before," said Biles during a press conference in Tokyo.
She says mental health was the reason for withdrawing from the games.
"I know I'm going to be fine, but I don't want to risk a medal for the team, so I need to call it. You don't usual hear me say that because I usually persevere and push through things," said Biles, who consulted with team doctors, including the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team physician Dr. Marcy Faustin of UC Davis, who was interviewed by UC Davis Health.
"My goal is to be there to support them and to help them stay as healthy as possible not just physically also mentally," said Faustin.
"It takes incredible courage and resiliency to be able to talk about mental health so publicly," said Dr. Brandi Liles, a clinical Psychologist at UC Davis
A colleague of Dr. Faustin's, Dr. Liles is working to reduce the stigma of mental health.
"In this society we treat athletes as products instead of people. They have emotions -- they have bad days, they have situations that all of us have," she said. "We wouldn't question this decision if she had a torn meniscus or broke her arm or had a torn ACL."
Liles explains it's possible for disassociation to occur in athletes, which is their mind separating from their body.
"Expecting them to go out and perform these really high level skills without thinking that their mental health and mental capacity isn't a part of that...that's just really incongruent form the science that we know," she said.
Biles withdrawing not only keeps her safe but sets an example for athletes all over the world, Dr. Liles said.
"It's so incredible for people to be able to come out and talk about that pressure and what its like emotionally as an athlete. We shouldn't put entertainment above a young person's, well-being, mental health physical health," said Dr. Liles
According to www.teamusa.org, Biles has six Olympic medals, seven including her team's silver medal this year in Tokyo, and 25 world championship medals. She's arguably one of the best gymnasts of all time.
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