U.S. swimmer Simone Manuel overcame burnout and depression to earn her fifth career medal at the Tokyo Olympics. But she can’t get over reporters immediately getting in the faces of competitors who struggle at the Games.
“Please stop interviewing athletes right after a disappointing performance before they have any time to process anything,” Manuel wrote on Twitter Friday. “Trust me. They gave it their all. Nothing else people need to know at that time.”
Manuel herself dealt with the blow of not advancing to the 50-meter freestyle final in Tokyo. But she won a bronze medal on the U.S. 4x100 relay to add to a formidable collection of Olympic hardware: a 2016 gold in the 100-meter freestyle as she became the first Black woman to win an individual Summer Games swimming event; a silver in the 50, and a gold and silver in two Rio relays.
Manuel’s comment expanded the dialogue on the role of media after tennis star Naomi Osaka declined to do press appearances at the French Open to protect her mental health. She reappeared at the Olympics two months later and said the pressure “was a bit much” after she lost in the third round.
Premier gymnast Simone Biles, who disclosed she was affected by mental health concerns in this year’s Olympics, faced scrutiny after dropping out of several events in Tokyo before taking a bronze in the balance beam. Though Biles received an outpouring of support, British TV personality Piers Morgan said athletes like her are making it fashionably heroic to “quit.”