Simone Biles pulled out of the Olympic Gymnastics finals for her mental health
When you think of Team USA at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, you think of Simone Biles.
Biles is indisputably the greatest gymnast of all time. She is the most decorated American gymnast of all time with four Olympic gold medals and 19 World Championship gold medals under her belt, as well as four other international gold medals and an additional nine silver and bronze medals.
She came into the world spotlight after the 2016 Olympics, part of the "Final Five" team alongside Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, and Aly Raisman. Biles stunned global audiences with her flawless execution and daring routines.
Over the past four years, she has continued to win big and keep innovating the sport, doing moves that no other gymnast has even attempted.
With her track record, many expected the same of her in the 2020 games — which is a lot to live up to.
After a few surprising missteps and stumbles by the team during preliminaries, Team USA came second to the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) by a slim, one point margin. Though both teams showed strong performances, the second place finish was unprecedented and Team USA's confidence was shaken.
In her first performance at Tuesday's finals, Biles landed awkwardly during her Amanar vault and subsequently withdrew from the finals.
Simone Biles: "I'm sorry. I love you guys, but you're gonna be just fine." "You guys have trained your whole entir… https://t.co/qBOSUnQBXO— Kendall Baker (@Kendall Baker)1627398446.0
The official statement read: "Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions."
However, comments from the Team Coach and Simone herself reveal that her withdrawal might partly be attributed to mental health.
In an Instagram post following the qualifiers, Biles posted on Instagram about how hard dealing with the pressure has been.
"It wasn't an easy day or my best but I got through it," she said. "I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn't affect me but damn sometimes it's hard"
After she left the floor, Simone reportedly said "dealing with some things internally that will get fixed in the next few days."
Good news. Our man @JohnWatsonSport has just spoken to @Simone_Biles .Said she is ok but “dealing with some things… https://t.co/qbMyFpsXPs— Natalie Pirks (@Natalie Pirks)1627393383.0
Despite withdrawing from the competition, Biles stayed on to cheer for her teammates, help them chalk their hands, and congratulate the final winners from ROC.
With a score of 169.528, the ROC took home the Gold medal, while Team USA came second, earning 166.096 — less than a four point margin.
After the competition, Biles gave an interview about her mental health, saying that one of her goals is "to focus on my well being. You know there's more to life than just gymnastics."
Despite athletes like Michael Phelps being vocal about his struggles with mental illness all through the Olympics coverage, the pressure is still insurmountable for many athletes and Biles's courage to step away — for physical and or mental reasons — is testament to her talent.
Biles is already the greatest — we know that. And being unapologetic about her needs and her vulnerabilities, especially as a Black woman, only makes her even more inspiring.
In our eyes, she's already won.