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.
Three-time Olympic gold medalist and former teammate Aly Raisman is among those voicing their support for Biles.
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.”
“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.”
“None of us stopped. Our bodies just weren’t able to do it,” Radcliffe said.
“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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