TOKYO — Simone Biles took to social media Thursday to thank fans for their support after she withdrew from the team and individual all-around finals at the Tokyo Olympics amid mental health concerns.
“The outpouring of love and support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before,” the 24-year-old, often described as the greatest gymnast of all time, wrote on her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
Several athletes, including her Olympic teammates, commended Biles and offered words of encouragement.
“YOU’RE [AMAZING] SIMONE!” gymnast MyKayla Skinner wrote in an Instagram comment, adding, “Love u babe.”
“SO PROUD OF YOU!!” added teammate Grace McCallum.
Dominique Moceanu, who was part of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team that won gold in the 1996 Olympics, tweeted: “Gymnastics is what you do. It’s not who you are.”
The post came hours before the women’s all-around competition was set to begin in Tokyo. Fellow American Jade Carey, who placed ninth in the qualifying round, will replace Biles in Thursday’s final, USA Gymnastics said in a statement Wednesday. Teammate Sunisa Lee, who secured a spot in the all-around final after posting the third-highest score in qualifying, also will compete.
Biles – who won four gold medals, including the all-around title, at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro – pulled out of Tuesday’s team competition shortly after the U.S. women completed their first rotation on vault. According to The Associated Press, the gymnast bailed on the vault she had planned to perform, an Amanar, and hopped on the landing.
Biles was seen with her trainer before leaving the floor with the team’s doctor following the routine, according to the AP. She returned to the sidelines to cheer on teammates Lee, Jordan Chiles and McCallum, who went on to win the silver medal.
On Tuesday, USA Gymnastics said Biles withdrew from the team final “due to a medical issue” and will “be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”
Biles later said she realized that she wasn’t “in the right headspace” to compete Tuesday, the AP reported.
“I didn’t want to go into any of the other events second-guessing myself,” Biles said. “So I thought it would be better if I took a step back and let these girls go out there and do their job.”
She also took to Instagram to praise her teammates.
“I’m SO proud of these girls right here,” she captioned a photo of the team posing with their silver medals. “You girls are incredibly brave & talented! I’ll forever be inspired by your determination to not give up and to fight through adversity! They stepped up when I couldn’t. thanks for being there for me and having my back! Forever love y’all.”
On Wednesday, USA Gymnastics released a statement saying Biles also would not be competing in the all-around competition Thursday.
“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,” the statement read. “Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals.”
The statement continued: “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.”
Although Biles qualified for all four of next week’s individual event finals, she has not said whether she will participate.
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