Very few people can relate to the pressure U.S. gymnast Simone Biles feels as one of the world’s foremost athletes. One of them is retired Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes, who’s just offered support for the gymnast after she backed out of certain events at the Tokyo Olympics for mental health reasons.
“My heart goes out to Simone,” began Dawes, who won multiple gold medals at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. “There’s no way that one would sacrifice and dedicate their whole childhood to finally qualify [for] their second Olympic games, have to deal with being the only sexual [assault] survivor, the survivor of the Larry Nassar scandal, on the floor competing, as the role model, as the trail blazer, then get to the Olympic games and have this mental block.”
In another part of her conversation with TMZ, Dawes speaks on hateful messages she’s seen directed toward herself on social media. She advises athletes to turn off their social media.
Biles pulled out of the women’s team gymnastics finals yesterday. In an Instagram post she uploaded that day, she gave some background on her decision.
“It wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it,” she wrote ahead of the finals. “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 hahaha! The Olympics is no joke! BUT I’m happy my family was able to be with me virtually. They mean the world to me!”
Later that day, it was announced that she also wouldn’t be competing in the women’s all-around gymnastic finals, which is set to take place on Thursday. She could still compete in other events going forward, but she is taking it day by day. Watch Dawes offer support to Biles for yourself in the video below.