In 2020, the surprising withdrawal of the most decorated American gymnast, Simone Biles, from the Tokyo Olympics sparked a new focus on mental health for Olympians and beyond. Biles expressed that she felt inspired to make this decision after watching another star athlete, Naomi Osaka, withdraw from the Wimbledon and French Opens earlier that same year for similar reasons of needing to focus on her mental and physical well-being. Lane Johnson, the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive tackle, opened up recently about how anxiety has affected his gameplay and overall well-being, touching especially on the stigma surrounding the topic even amongst professional athletes:
“The bad news is that I think a lot more people have it than what meets the eye. I think it’s easy to put on a poker face. … I remember hearing a stat at the combine that 40–50% of people in the NFL have some sort of condition. [The game] can do a lot of things for you but a lot of times it can be detrimental.”
Inspired by the experiences of athletes like Biles and Osaka, Dualete co-founders Cindy Gu, Edward Huang, and Ronit Tiwary formed their online solution. To the Dualete team, training youth athletes’ mental strength and resourcefulness skills is just as important as their usual technical skills. They are interested in helping athletes to develop a foundation of knowledge that is holistic across all factors for their playing. Looking at Biles and Osaka, Tiwary explains that “a big part of sports is winning, and when people lose or say they’re struggling they’re always met with resistance or distaste: as a result, people don’t talk about failure as much.” In response to this, Dualete was created to address these struggles by pairing experienced college athletes with junior athletes in mentorship relationships.