Simone Biles shocked the sporting world on Tuesday with her decision to withdrawal midway through the Olympic team gymnastics finals. Despite initial speculation that she’d suffered an injury, Biles later indicated that she pulled out due to mental health concerns stemming from the emotional burden of the Olympic spotlight.
While countless fans and fellow athletes have come forward to support her, others have been harshly critical of the all-time great gymnast.
On Tuesday, conservative radio host Charlie Kirk called Biles a “selfish sociopath” and a “shame to the country” for pulling out of the team event.
“We are raising a generation of weak people like Simone Biles,” Kirk added.
NBA superstar Jayson Tatum responded to these hateful comments in Biles’ defense.
“Is it that hard to be supportive and empathetic to what others are going through? This is someone’s daughter and her health your referring to,” Tatum wrote. “Wonder if he has kids and how he would feel as a parent someone talking about his kids this way. Cause I’d be DAMNED. Simone is a hero!”
Is it that hard to be supportive and empathetic to what others are going through? This is someone’s daughter and her health your referring to. Wonder if he has kids and how he would feel as a parent someone talking about his kids this way. Cause I’d be DAMNED. Simone is a hero! https://t.co/kJWnXK2tlk
— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) July 28, 2021
Without Biles on the squad, the U.S. team claimed silver in the team event. It was originally thought that the country’s top gymnast could return for Thursday’s individual all-around competition, but that hope now been erased as well.
USA Gymnastics released a statement in support of Biles after she withdrew from the individual contest on Wednesday:
“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health… We wholeheartedly support Simone’s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.”
Biles is yet another trail blazer in the recent fight for mental health awareness among professional athletes.