Simone Biles has withdrawn from the all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday (July 29) to protect her mental health. The news arrives one day after the 24-year-old gymnastics champion pulled out of the women’s team gymnastics finals.
“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games in order to focus on her mental health,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement on Wednesday (July 28). “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.”
In a statement, Biles said the pressure she felt while competing was too much to handle, leaving her worried she’d leave the Olympics “on a stretcher.”
“I don’t trust myself as much anymore. Maybe it’s getting older. There were a couple of days when everybody tweets you and you feel the weight of the world,” she said. “We’re not just athletes. We’re people at the end of the day and sometimes you just have to step back. I didn’t want to go out and do something stupid and get hurt. I feel like a lot of athletes speaking up has really helped.”
On Twitter, Biles received support for her decision to withdraw from fans, including Former First Lady Michelle Obama.
“Am I good enough? Yes, I am. The mantra I practice daily. [Simone Biles], we are proud of you and we are rooting for you,” she wrote on Twitter. “Congratulations on the silver medal, Team [USA]!”
However, Piers Morgan criticized Biles, saying her decision to withdraw was a “joke.”
“Are ‘mental health issues’ now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport? What a joke,” Morgan tweeted. “Just admit you did badly, made mistakes, and will strive to do better next time. Kids need strong role models not this nonsense.”
The former “Good Morning Britain” host received swift backlash for the comments, with many social media users recalling the similar lack of empathy that Morgan showed Meghan Markle.
See Obama and Morgan’s tweets below.
Are ‘mental health issues’ now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport? What a joke.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 27, 2021
Just admit you did badly, made mistakes, and will strive to do better next time.
Kids need strong role models not this nonsense.