Olympic Swimmer Simone Manuel Advises The Media To Fall Back After An Athlete Has A Disappointing Performance

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Swimming - Olympics: Day 8
Swimming - Olympics: Day 8

Source: Tom Pennington / Getty

Olympic Swimmer Simone Manuel had some choice words for the media covering the Tokyo Olympics. In a recent tweet, the five-time Olympic gold medalist advised journalists to stop hunting for an interview after an athlete loses a competition.

“Please stop interviewing athletes right after a disappointing performance before they have any time to process anything,” Manuel tweeted. “Trust me. They gave it their all. Nothing else people need to know at that time.”

Manuel, who earned a bronze medal at the U.S. 4×100 relay, didn’t earn a medal at the 50 meter freestyle and had to face the media after the disappointing loss, something she probably didn’t want to do.

“It’s hard to work so hard for something and not see the results pay off,” she said after the match. “The swim I had was my best today, but it’s not representative of my potential.”

Manuel came forward about her own mental health struggles in June. During a press conference, she revealed that she was diagnosed with overtraining syndrome, which happens when an athlete’s training activity exceeds their body’s ability to recover. Manuel was also experiencing burnout, irritability, depressed mood, sleeplessness, difficulty exercising and a loss of appetite. She took three weeks off and then trained for the Olympic trials but unfortunately didn’t make the Olympic swim team.

“This is first time I showed up to a meet and before I even dove in and did a race, I was proud of myself,” she told Insider after not making the U.S team. “I hope that inspires more athletes to feel that way. I feel like we’re not proud of ourselves until we accomplish something so great. I’ve done it, I’m an Olympic champion, I know there’s more there.”

This year, Olympians have not shied away from doing what was best for their mental health. Simone Biles withdrew from some of the team and individual competitions to preserve her mental health and also for safety reasons. Naomi Osaka has also been transparent about her anxiety about facing the media and decided to skip media interviews during the French Open to maintain a better state of mind.

“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health, and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” she said. “We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”