Simone Biles withdrawing from the women’s gymnastics final today (July 27) shocked us all — the reasoning being that she aimed to protect “her body and mind.”
After the final was won by the the Russia Olympic Committee (ROC), Biles broke down in tears as she explained her decision to reporters, CNN says.
“Whenever you get in a high stress situation, you kind of freak out,” said the 24-year-old. “I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being. It just sucks when you’re fighting with your own head.”
The gymnasts said those competing weren’t “just athletes, we’re people at the end of the day” and that Team USA is planning to have a “mental rest day” tomorrow.
Biles’ emotional interview brought the topic of mental health to the front-line of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Earlier today, Naomi Osaka, who has also talked openly about her own mental health struggles, was knocked out of the women’s Olympic tennis tournament.
Her fellow gymnastic teammates didn’t want to see Biles go, “They were like ‘I promise you’ll be fine, we watched you warm-up’. But I said ‘no, I know I am going to be fine but I can’t risk a medal for the team and I need to call it,” Biles said.
“You usually don’t hear me say things like that because I usually persevere and push through things, but not to cost the team a medal. So they were like, ‘OK, if Simone says this, we need to take it pretty serious.’ I had the correct people around me to do that.”
Team USA ended up with silver as Great Britain took bronze.