Simone Biles’ Withdrawal From Team Final Sparks Conversation On Mental Health

Jul 27, 2021, 11:25 PM
Simone Biles...
(L-R) Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Simone Biles and Sunisa Lee of Team United States look on during the Women's Team Final on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

TOKYO — There were some stunning moments in Tokyo Tuesday as Simone Biles withdrew from the gymnastics team competition for mental health reasons.

Athlete mental health has been a big focus at these Olympic Games, and it’s important to realize just how much is at stake in a sport like gymnastics, when your mind isn’t where you want it to be.

“I’m like, ‘Don’t bail, you’ll literally die, like you will break something,” Biles said laughing.

While Biles can joke about the dangers of her otherworldly skills, the risks are real.

A split-second hesitation or a mid-air mixup could mean a major injury. And it seems that possibility played a role in Biles’ difficult decision Tuesday.

“I didn’t want to do something silly out there and get injured,” she said.

We were all stunned when Biles performed just one vault before withdrawing from the team competition.

She knew at that moment she was hurting the team and could hurt herself, so a difficult decision had to be made.

“I didn’t want to risk the team a medal for my screwups,” said Biles.

Teammates Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum stepped in to take her spot, some having no time to warm up their routines.

“I’m sorry. I love you guys, but you’re gonna be just fine,” said Biles.

“We all just had to put our minds into a great position,” said Chiles.

Biles returned to the floor to cheer on her teammates through the rest of the rotations.

Team USA finished second, behind the Russian Olympic Committee team.

“It’s really hard to lose the best in the world, but I’m really proud of how we did,” said McCallum.

While Biles has received both criticism and support, her decision has sparked a conversation about mental health.

“Simone Biles is human and every single athlete, no matter how successful they are, every single athlete has good days and bad days,” said two-time Olympian and former USA gymnast Aly Raisman.

Biles did more than stun the world with her withdrawal — she sent a message that many say has been a long time coming.

“It’s OK sometimes to sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself,” said Biles. “It shows how strong a person and competitor you really are, rather than just battle through it.”

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