U.S. gymnastics superstar Simone Biles says the wave of support she’s received after pulling out of the two marquee events of Olympic women’s gymnastics has changed the way she sees herself.
“the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before,” Biles said in a tweet.
The greatest gymnast of all time suddenly withdrew from the team final on Sunday, after a difficult vault. In comments later, she explained that she made the decision because she wanted to preserve her mental health.
On Wednesday, on the eve of the individual all-around final, USA Gymnastics said Biles would not compete.
Team USA has supported Biles’ decision. “Your strength and courage to focus on your wellbeing is something we can all learn from,” it said in a tweet. “Thank you for being the leader you are.”
Current and former Olympians are also opening up about the pressures that face the world’s top athletes.
“Simone Biles. Man, what an athlete and competitor. We put athletes on a high stage, but people forget the day-to-day grind, the demands and that all the hype takes a toll on a person,” U.S. softball player Monica Abbott said. “Mental health is a big topic right now, it’s probably one that hasn’t discussed in the past when it needed to be.”
Dominique Moceanu, a retired U.S. gymnast and gold medalist in 1996, said Biles’ decision “demonstrates that we have a say in our own health—’a say’ I NEVER felt I had as an Olympian.”