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'This is a hero story,' former Olympian says of Simone Biles

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A former Olympian says Simone Biles' decision to step out of Olympic competition is a teaching moment for leaders and people everywhere.

Citing the enormous expectations placed on her, the 24-year-old American gymnastics superstar withdrew from Thursday's all-around competition to focus on her mental well-being.

"We don't have enough hero stories where someone is a badass and they also take care of their mental health and they take care of themselves," said Iris Zimmerman, a native of Rush who was a member of the U.S. Women’s Fencing Team at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Simone Biles (@simonebiles)

Zimmerman, who co-owns the Rochester Fencing Club, is also a performance and leadership coach.

She said she understands the intense pressure faced by world-class athletes and other leaders who think they have to rise to others' expectations. 

"I can't tell you how many leaders have a hard time saying, 'Look, I have to prioritize some rest and recovery for myself and step away,' and normalizing and creating an environment so other people can do the same thing," Zimmerman said.

Click on the LISTEN link above to hear an interview with Zimmerman on the topic.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.