Simone Biles is arguably the greatest gymnast in history, and entered the Tokyo Summer Olympics with unbelievably lofty gold medal expectations. Unfortunately, things went a bit sideways this morning, as she withdrew from the team event.
It was first announced that Biles was dealing with a physical issue, though the messaging throughout the morning was very muddled. She later confirmed that she wasn’t in a good mental state this morning when the event began, leading her to make that tough decision.
“I felt like it would be better to take a back seat… I didn’t want to risk the team a medal because they worked way too hard for my screw ups,” she said, via Michele Steele. “It’s been really stressful this Olympic games… it’s been a long week, a long Olympic process, a long year. I think we’re a little too stressed out – we should be out here having fun and that’s just not the case.”
Biles said that during the 5.5 hours between the team’s morning workout and today’s event, she was shaking, and knew that she wasn’t in condition to perform. Rather than hold the team back, she withdrew from the team event.
Biles says candidly: "Today has been really stressful." Team had a morning workout, and then during the 5 1/2 hour wait, said she was shaking, "never felt like this before…Once I came out here, I was like, no the mental is not there. I had to let the girls do it."
— Michele Steele (@MicheleSteele) July 27, 2021
“It wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times,” Biles went on to write on Instagram. “I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha!”
With Biles out, Sunisa Lee, Grace McCallum, and Jordan Chiles led the way as the U.S. earned the silver medal, finishing second to Russia. Biles now turns her attention to the individual events. Biles’ former teammate Aly Raisman, a three-time gold medal winner, reacted to the situation on TODAY this morning, after tweeting about the situation.
Just a friendly reminder: Olympic athletes are human & they’re doing the best they can. It’s REALLY hard to peak at the right moment & do the routine of your life under such pressure. Really hard.
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) July 26, 2021
Congratulations to the US women’s gymnastics team for WINNING the silver medal!
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) July 27, 2021
“It’s horrible,” Raisman told TODAY. “I know that all of these athletes dream of this moment for their whole entire lives, and so I’m just completely devastated. I am obviously so worried and just hoping that Simone is OK.
“I also am just thinking about the mental impact that this has to have on Simone. It’s just so much pressure, and I’ve been watching how much pressure has been on her in the months leading up to the Games, and it’s just devastating. I feel horrible.”
Raisman wants to remind people that even Biles, who can seem superhuman when competing, is like the rest of us at the end of the day.
“I think that Simone is the biggest story going into the Olympics, so this is just — it’s really, really devastating,” Raisman said. “But I think it’s also just really important to think about how much pressure has been on her, and there’s only so much that someone can take. She’s human, and I think sometimes people forget that. And Simone, just like everyone else, is doing the best that she can.”
Hopefully Simone Biles can return to competition in the individual events later in the week, but the most important thing is that she’s taking care of herself, both physically and mentally. It sounds like she made the right call on that today.