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Simone Biles will make mental health advocacy part of post-Olympics GOAT tour

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Simone Biles will make mental health advocacy part of her post-Olympics Gold over America Tour — aka GOAT — after her decision to opt-out of five of six Olympic gymnastics finals became the talking point in Tokyo. 

Biles told the Associated Press she has no regrets about that decision and called it a "small price to pay" if it made others realize they can talk openly about those types of life concerns. 

"I wouldn't change anything for the world," she told the Associated Press. "I gave an outlet for athletes to speak up about their mental health and their well-being and learn that you can put yourself (as a person) first before the athlete." 

Biles adding mental health to GOAT tour

Now she'll take that message on the 35-city exhibition tour she organized with sponsor Athleta and is headlining. It begins in Tucson, Arizona, on Sept. 21 and will feature Olympian gymnasts performing. Biles told the AP it will also include a segment on the importance of taking care of your mental health that will be led by former UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi. 

Ohashi, a one-time Olympic hopeful who was the last person to defeat Biles in the all-around, became a headline performer in 2018 for her fun routines as a Bruin. She has become an advocate for mental health and has written openly about the body-shaming and toxic environments she experienced as a young gymnast. 

“We wanted to make it as relatable as possible and let these kids know that we’ve been going through these things,” Biles told the AP. 

The tour will be "unique" and differ from the post-Olympic tours that have been held by USA Gymnastics upon the stars' return. For one, it will be run by women for the first time ever. 

Biles says buildup of issues led to twisties

Simone Biles
Simone Biles will add a mental health aspect to her GOAT tour that begins next month. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Biles won a silver in the team competition and finished the Olympics with a return to the balance beam and a bronze medal. She experienced the "twisties" in Tokyo and removed herself from competitions. 

She's now tied with Shannan Miller for most career Olympic medals won by an American gymnast with seven in the collection. She told the AP she thinks the "twisties" were brought on by a buildup of various issues over the last few years.

“I mean, I’m in therapy. I go to therapy pretty religiously,” she said. “And it’s just something that took hold of me (where) your body and your mind tells you when enough is enough.”

It opened a conversation around athletes and mental health, but also the mental health of everyone and anyone particularly during a pandemic. Biles returned to her hometown of Houston with a car parade and scores of adoring fans, young and old. She told the AP everyone had "been so supportive, so loving, which I really wasn't expecting" when she returned stateside. 

Who is performing on Biles' Olympic tour?

Biles said during the Olympics that she will still perform on the tour since her routines won't have twists. 

Tokyo Olympic teammates Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, McKayla Skinner and Jade Carey will be on the tour. Chiles and McCallum earned silver with Biles in the team competition. Skinner won silver on vault after Biles withdrew from the competition. And Carey won gold on the floor. 

Sunisa Lee, the Olympic all-around champion, also has an open invite to the tour. Biles said Lee wants to focus on her freshman year at Auburn, which began last week, but could make some cameo appearances. 

Two-time Olympic medalist Laurie Hernandez, 2017 world champion Morgan Hurd and 2008 Olympic silver medalist Chellsie Memmel will all perform as well. Memmel, 33, is a married mother of two and looking to make a comeback. In a full-circle moment, the 24-year-old Skinner is on her way out of the sport to start a family. 

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