American sprinter Noah Lyles won a bronze medal in the men's 200-meter dash at the Tokyo Olympics, but it’s what he said after the race that has turned heads.
Lyles talked about his mental health struggles, comments he would amplify when he sat down with TODAY on Thursday.
US track star Noah Lyles on importance of mental health, says he has 2 therapists
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“I’ve always talked about mental health in my career,” he told Craig Melvin. “And, now, as I got more and more popular, I got more and more attention, people watching me. So I feel that I was able to reach an even bigger audience.
“Saying it then wasn’t any different from when I was saying it a few years ago, but every time I say it, I say it with the intention that I know that there’s somebody out there who is probably struggling (with) the same issues I was and I want them to know that there is ways to feel better. They don’t have to keep feeling that way.”
Lyles, 24, says he is lucky because he has people who look out for him.
Watch all the action from the Tokyo Olympics live on NBC
“I’ve been very fortunate enough to have my mother, who’s been in therapy most of her life and she got me in very early, so I now have two therapists, one for my personal life and one for my sports life,” he said, while adding he has an “amazing team.”
“It takes a village. I have an amazing girlfriend and everybody’s very supportive. We all keep tabs on each other,” he added.
While speaking to reporters after he won the bronze medal earlier this week, Lyles opened up about his mental health, while noting he stopped taking antidepressants that he had started taking last year.
“I always said the day I wasn’t having fun with this sport, I’m going to leave it,” he told reporters, according to The Washington Post. “And for a little bit, I wasn’t having fun this year. I did want to leave. I had to make a decision. I was like, I got to get better. I can’t let this control me.”
Mental health has been a central storyline during the Tokyo Olympics, with gymnast Simone Biles withdrawing from nearly every event, except for the balance beam, in which she won a bronze medal.
Her exit from competition had many people, including Olympians, talking.
“Every individual is different," Caeleb Dressel, who won five gold medals in Tokyo, told TODAY. "That's why I'm not going to speak on anyone else's behalf. That's why I'm OK with this call that Simone did. No one else's opinion matters, because they're not the one that's in her situation.”
“This is an opportunity for all of us to really learn more about mental health, to all help each other out," Michael Phelps told TODAY after Biles withdrew from the individual all-around competition.
"For me, I want people to be able to have somebody that can support them, who’s non-judgmental and who’s willing to hold space. There’s a lot that we can do to help one another and we have to start. We can’t brush it under the rug anymore.”
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: