Simone Biles Withdraws From Individual All-Around Final At Olympics To Focus On Mental Health

Simone Biles Photo Credit: Shutterstock

When Simone Biles won the all-around medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, she brought immense pride to the United States and showed the world that she was a powerful force to be reckoned with. However, what most people didn’t see was the massive burden of pressure and expectation that the games forced her to carry. And now, the 24-year-old gymnast finally decided to withdraw from the individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics in order to focus on her mental health. 

In a statement posted on their Twitter account, USA Gymnastics confirmed the news shortly after: “After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health. Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week's individual event finals. Jade Carey, who had the ninth-highest score in qualifications, will participate in her place in the all-around. We wholeheartedly support Simone's decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”

Following her decision, Biles received a slew of support from celebrities and fellow Olympians. “To my best friend, just thinking about everything we have gone through together from us getting mad at each other for no reason to laughing at jokes, to bringing the love of this sport back to me with your help words can't explain how proud I am of you,” teammate Jordan Chiles shared on her Instagram account. “I LOVE YOU and am literally crying just thinking about everything. WE did this together.” 


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Additionally, two-time Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman also came out to support Biles and open up about the mental strain that the events had on her as an athlete. “It was really exhausting, and it was kind of like everything is surrounded around gymnastics,” Raisman told Shape. “There's a lot of pressure, and I just remember having anxiety all the time.” 

On top of practicing twice a day, Raisman said that she had been devoid of physical rest and didn’t have the proper resources to take care of her mental health. “I would get different treatments after workouts, but I didn't understand that I needed to take care of the mental part — not just icing my foot if I had an ankle injury,” she said. “I think as more athletes speak up, the more it will create opportunities for other athletes to be supported [mentally], but there really wasn't much for us...I wish I had more of the tools that I have now.”

On Wednesday, Biles also decided to communicate a statement on her own. On her Instagram story, she reposted a series of photos from fitness trainer Andrea Orris that explained the support for Biles’ decision to withdraw from the finals. “After her track record of all she’s pushed through - the fact that she took herself out of the competition on her own merit means that whatever she is dealing with internally has to be insurmountable and should be taken seriously,” the caption read. “Despite what she’s able/choosing to articulate to the public in interviews, we will never know or fully understand her personal choices and struggles. She deserves respect. She deserves compassion. She does not deserve to have any judgment passed.”


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