The 36-year-old swimming icon spoke to NBC's Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 27, where the 23-time gold medalist offered compassionate support to Simone following her decision to exit the team competition earlier in the day. Her exit came after she suffered an uncharacteristic misstep on her vault routine.
"The Olympics is overwhelming," Michael shared. "There's a lot of emotions that go into it. I mean, I could talk to you about this for an hour."
The father of three, who has been candid in recent years about his own mental health journey, said athletes need trusted confidantes around them who can truly listen when they discuss what they're enduring and feeling.
"We carry a lot of things, a lot of weight on our shoulders, and it's challenging, especially when we have the lights on us and all of the expectations that are being thrown on top of us," Michael said. He added about Simone's situation, "It broke my heart. But also, if you look at it, mental health over the last 18 months is something that people are talking about."
He continued, "The biggest thing is, we all need to ask for help, too, when we go through those times. For me, I can say personally it was something that was very challenging. It was hard for me to ask for help. I felt like I was carrying, as Simone said, the weight of the world on your shoulders. It's a tough situation."
After withdrawing, Simone told Today's Hoda Kotb that she's "just super frustrated" with how the team final went, but remains "super proud" of her teammates after they secured the team silver. She added that while she feels fine physically, her emotional state fluctuates.
"Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment," Simone, 24, said. "Coming to the Olympics and being head star isn't an easy feat, so we're just trying to take it one day at a time, and we'll see."
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