July 27, (THEWILL) – Sequel to THEWILL reporting of the withdrawal of multiple Olympic medalist Simone Biles from Team USA’s gymnastics events at the ongoing Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan, the American has personally provided answers to questions surrounding that move, pointing to a need to protect her mental health.
THEWILL recalls that the 24-year-old had displayed uncharacteristic unsteadiness in procedures that she was famous for excelling at during the qualifiers. On her opening vault, for instance, she had bailed out in mid-air and upon landing, she stumbled, an unusual sight for the serial champion.
As an answer to the rationale behind her withdrawal from the women’s team gymnastics, she confirmed it had nothing to do with any injuries, as was initially feared, but for reasons of protecting her mental health. As to if she might return, Biles said that she would take it “a day at a time” before deciding whether to return for the still upcoming individual events.
After the confirmation of her withdrawal, Biles returned to support her team-mates and was there cheering them as they finished with a commendable silver behind the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). Team Great Britain made a late run to challenge for medals and finished with a bronze medal for their efforts.
After qualifying for her sixth Olympics, Biles had said prior to competition that the Olympics were weighing heavily on her. On Tuesday, she admitted: “Even though it’s so big, it’s the Olympic Games. But at the end of the day it’s like we want to walk out of here, not be dragged out here on a stretcher.
“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to. And I don’t know if it’s age – I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun and I know that.
“I have to focus on my mental health. We have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do.”
The serial gymnastics champion had led in the qualifying series to finish first in the all-around standings ahead of the final on Thursday. Biles was also slated to compete in the floor, vault and balance beam finals before the withdrawal was announced by Team USA.
Her focus on her mental health is reminiscent of the debate surrounding tennis star Naomi Osaka’s story before, during and after this year’s French Open. As THEWILL reported, the Japanese tennis player pulled out of Roland Garros in May after she was threatened with expulsion over a press boycott,
Even though Osaka explained that her decision was based on her prioritising her mental health, a fine of $15,000 was slammed on the number two ranked tennis star and a joint statement by the four Slams threatened further action if she persisted on her press boycott, leaving her so little room to manoeuvre.
Osaka promptly withdrew and took some time off. She avoided the third major of the year, at the All England Club in Wimbledon, before returning to the Olympics in her native land of Japan.
A first-place finish for Team USA at the Women’s artistic team all-round event could have been possible if Biles featured, as not only was she the perfect gymnast but her performance often lifted the spirits and quality of the rest of the team to give their best.
It ended up being to the advantage of the ROC, as they added to their growing medal haul which now stands at 18, with 7 gold, 7 silver and 4 bronze medals in all.