Marizka Coetzer
4 minute read
16 Aug 2021
6:05 am

Elite athletes: Stress of striving for success

Marizka Coetzer

‘Something can seem bigger than you or your capabilities.’

South Africa's Wenda Nel competes in the women's 400m hurdles heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

South African 400 metre hurdler Wenda Nel says it felt like a “mental health bomb” exploded at the recent Tokyo Olympics, bringing into sharp focus the psychological stresses which affect elite athletes.“ Mental health is very important. You think you are young and tough, but as you get older you realise what a big role it is,” Nel said. One of those who could not cope in Tokyo was American gymnastics star Simone Biles, who pulled out of the team final and individual all-around competitions. The pressure got to be too much for the 24 year old, who is being...