Simone Biles says fan support helps her realize she’s more than her gold medals

The 24-year-old, who is one of the greatest gymnasts of all time, withdrew from Thursday’s individual all-around yesterday after retiring from a dramatic team competition earlier in the week. She cited mental health issues and the need to protect “her body and mind”.

In a tweet published on Wednesday, Biles spoke of the support she has since received from fans and said it has shown her that she is “more” than her athletic achievements.

“The overwhelming love and support I received made me realize that I am more than my accomplishments and my gymnastics that I had never really believed in before,” said Biles.

USA Gymnastics said in a statement Wednesday that it supported its decision “wholeheartedly” and applauded its “bravery”.

“Her courage shows, once again, why she is a role model for so many people,” USA Gymnastics said.

Biles, who was one of the favorites to take gold in the final, has won all individual competitions she has competed in since 2013 and won four gold medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

But on Tuesday, as he attempted an advanced jump involving a backstroke with two and a half twists in the air before landing, Biles faltered and left the playing field on the verge of tears.

The weight of the world on his shoulders

Writing on Instagram earlier in the week, she said she was feeling “the weight of the world on [her] shoulders sometimes. “

“I know I’m erasing it and making it feel like the pressure isn’t affecting me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha!” she wrote in the post.

His honesty about the pressure of competition and mental health has been supported by other athletes, as well as sponsors such as Visa, American Airlines and Uber Eats.

Three-time Olympic gold medalist and former teammate Aly Raisman is among those voicing their support for Biles.

Simone Biles' the withdrawal reminds us that she is human - and still very much the GOAT

She criticized USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee for their lack of leadership in supporting athletes and said the athletes were “people at the end of the day.”

“USA Gymnastics has been an absolute disaster for years and unfortunately it hasn’t changed enough for us to believe in a more secure future, but I think it really shows the lack of leadership. [of] USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee, ”she told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday.

“Does Simone have the support she needs? Raisman continued. “Do other athletes have the support they need? “

She added, “It’s a huge pressure… I’m completely devastated and I support her so much.”

Paula Radcliffe, the former GB team runner who was branded ‘quit’ when she was forced to withdraw from the 2004 Athens Olympic Marathon a few kilometers before the finish line due to a injury, spoke of his own experience in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

“None of us stopped. Our bodies just weren’t able to do it,” Radcliffe said.

The problem that Simone Biles has just exposed

“Very few people actually understand the relationship between your mind and your body … especially in something that is really physically, or mentally – or both – trying, you really have to know when to go through it and when to listen to your body, and that’s what made her the great champion that she is, ”she added.

“I would say she’s actually even stronger mentally to be able to make that call now,” Radcliffe said of Biles.

Sports stars are increasingly open about the pressures they face.

In May, four-time major tennis champion Naomi Osaka withdrew from Roland Garros, citing mental health reasons.

The 23-year-old has revealed that she suffers from anxiety and depression.

“The truth is that I have suffered from long periods of depression since the US Open in 2018 and have had a hard time dealing with it,” she said in a statement at the time.

“Anyone who knows me knows I’m an introvert, and anyone who’s seen me at tournaments will notice that I often wear headphones because it helps alleviate my social anxiety.”

CNN’s Ivana Kottasová, Josiah Ryan, Ben Church, Jill Martin and Chauncey Alcorn contributed to this report.

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