This was was supposed to be Simone Biles’ coronation as the greatest female gymnast in Olympics history. Now, we simply hope to see her one more time competing under the American flag.
Wednesday morning, USA Gymnastics announced that Biles will not be participating in the individual all-around competition on Thursday following her withdrawal from the team competition.
After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition, in order to focus on her mental health.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 the 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.
After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition. 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. pic.twitter.com/6ILdtSQF7o
— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) July 28, 2021
Biles entered the game with sky-high expectations. After winning four gold medals in the 2016 Olympics, Biles was expected by many to top her Rio numbers by becoming the first American female gymnast to win five golds at a single Games.
Now, just completing an event would be an accomplishment.
It’s been a year in which the topic of mental health has fully entered the conversation in the world of sports.
Naomi Osaka — the world’s number two ranked women’s tennis player — pulled out of the 2021 French Open after citing long doubts of depression. U.S. swimmer Simone Manuel admitted to being diagnosed with “overtraining syndrome,” a medical diagnosis that gave her depression.
And now Biles has become the new face of the mental health conversation.
After her withdrawal from the women’s gymnastics team final — the U.S. team still managed to win the silver medal — Biles spoke openly about her struggles and the reason why she felt it was best that she allow her teammates to finish the event without her.
“I just don’t trust myself as much anymore,” Biles said. “I don’t know if it’s age, I’m just more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun. And I know this Olympic Games, I wanted it to be for myself. I’m still doing it for other people.”
Biles’ vault attempt in the team competition was shocking. She appeared to lose where she was in the air, landing in an awkward position before taking a large step forward on the mat.
“We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day we’re human, too,” Biles said. “So, we have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”
“I had to do what’s right for me and not jeopardize my health and well-being,” she added. “So that’s why I decided to kind of take a step back and let them do their work.”
Biles’ decision has been questioned by many, with the doubters feeling that she quit on her team. But Biles said her decision was made with the team in mind, choosing to withdraw in order to not jeopardize a medal for her teammates.
“I was like: I think the girls need to do the rest of the competition without me,” Biles said after the event. “They were like ‘I promise you’ll be fine, we watched you warm-up’. But I said ‘no, I know I am going to be fine but I can’t risk a medal for the team and I need to call it.
“You usually don’t hear me say things like that because I usually persevere and push through things, but not to cost the team a medal. So they were like: OK, if Simone says this, we need to take it pretty serious. I had the correct people around me to do that,” she said.
She has received an overwhelming amount of support from the sports community, including Olympics swimming legend Michael Phelps.
“We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders,” Phelps said. “And it’s challenging especially when we have the lights on us and all of these expectations being thrown on top of us.”
Michael Phelps shows his support for Simone Biles ✊ pic.twitter.com/mGVo7mfIFN
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 28, 2021
Phelps has been open about his own struggles with mental health, sharing that he is “extremely thankful that I did not take my life.”
Biles’ Olympics may still continue. She qualified for the finals on all four apparatuses, which are scheduled for next week. The vault and floor exercises — the first of the individual events — will take place on Sunday.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].