After watching her pull out of the women’s gymnastics team final, fans around the world want to know the real reason why Simone Biles withdrew from the Olympics. The four-time gold medalist has finally opened up about her decision to withdraw, telling reporters at a press conference following the team event that she decided to exit early due to her mental health.
On Tuesday, July 27, the U.S. Gymnastics team released a statement saying the 24-year-old gymnast had suffered a “medical issue” and would be pulling out of the team event following her vault rotation. Biles had a rare misstep during her vault performance, earning her the lowest score of her Olympics career at 13.766. The five-time world champ still decided to stay on the floor with Team USA, however, and continued to cheer her teammates on as they landed a silver medal.
During a press conference following her exit, Biles admitted that her mind wasn’t in the right place during the Tokyo Olympics. She described feeling like she was “fighting all of those demons” during the games, according to The New York Times. “This Olympic Games, I wanted it to be for myself when I came in — and I felt like I was still doing it for other people,” she told reporters in tears. “So that just, like, hurts my heart because doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”
Biles went on to explain that she ultimately decided to pull out of the team event early rather than risk injury due to her current state. “Today it’s like, you know what, no, I don’t want to do something stupid and get hurt,” she explained. “And it’s just it’s not worth it, especially when you have three amazing athletes that can step up to the plate and do it, not worth it.”
The reigning Olympic all-round champion went on to tell TODAY‘s Hoda Kotb that while she was “frustrated” with how her night turned out, she remained “super proud” of her teammates who “stepped up and did what they needed to do,” according to E!. She added, “And now we’re Olympic silver medalists so it’s something that we’ll cherish forever.”
Biles also took to social media to celebrate Team U.S.A’s silver medal in gymnastics following her exit. “I’m SO proud of these girls right here. You girls are incredibly brave & talented!” she captioned a photo with Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, and Grace McCallum. “I’ll forever be inspired by your determination to not give up and to fight through adversity! They stepped up when I couldn’t. thanks for being there for me and having my back! forever love y’all.”
While the U.S. Gymnastics team has yet to reveal whether Biles will compete in the individual all-around competition on Thursday, July 29, Biles herself told TODAY that she will take things “day by day” until then—so for now, we can all follow the G.O.A.T. and do the same.
For more about Simone Biles, check out her 2018 memoir, Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance. The New York Times #1 bestseller follows Biles’ life and career, from the field trip in her hometown that introduced her to gymnastics to her first Olympic gold medal in 2016. The book also explores Biles’ relationship with her faith, her time in foster care and the courageous steps she took to become the Olympic champion she is today. “I would hope I would inspire kids everywhere to know that you can do anything you put your mind to,” Biles writes in Courage to Soar.
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