After taking home the bronze medal in the Olympics Balance Beam Final on Tuesday (Aug. 3), Simone Biles revealed that her paternal aunt passed away unexpectedly earlier this week.
“Two days ago my aunt unexpectedly passed and that was something I wasn’t expecting to happen at the Olympic Games either,” she told reporters. “So at the end of the day, you have to be a little bit more mindful of what you say online because you have no idea what these athletes are going through as well as [in] their sports.”
The news arrives after Biles withdrew from four individual finals and the women’s team final at the Tokyo Olympics. The 24-year-old cited concerns about her mental health and said she was suffering from “twisties,” a gymnastics term that means having difficulty making safe landings.
“Every day I had to be medically evaluated by the doctors and then I had two sessions with a sports psychologist which kind of helped keep me more level-headed,” she said regarding the Balance Beam Final. “I was cleared to do beam, which I honestly didn’t think I’d be cleared to do last night.”
In an interview with People, Biles spoke further about prioritizing her own mental and physical well-being.
“It wasn’t easy pulling out of all those competitions. People just thought it was easy, but I physically and mentally was not in the right headspace and I didn’t want to jeopardize my health and my safety because at the end of the day it’s not worth it,” she said.
“My mental and physical health is above all medals that I could ever win. So to be clear, to do beam, which I didn’t think I was going to be, just meant the world to be back out there. And I wasn’t expecting to walk away with the medal,” she added. “I was just going out there doing this for me.”
Biles’ new bronze medal makes her the most decorated American Olympic gymnast in history.