Simone Biles Spoke On Her Olympic Withdrawal: ‘The Mental Is Not There’

The USA women’s gymnastics team took home silver at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, coming in 3.5 points behind the Russian Olympic Committee team who have now swept the gold medals in the men’s and women’s team competitions.

Making the United States’ feat all the more impressive was that they did it without Simone Biles for three of the four events, after the greatest gymnast of all-time withdrew from the team competition after the first rotation. Biles, who has the best vault in the world, scored just a 13.766 on the apparatus she has dominated for years, and it was soon announced that she would not compete the rest of the day for what was cited as “a medical issue.

After the competition, Biles spoke at the podium with her teammates and confirmed what one of the USA coaches told the NBC broadcast, which is that she was struggling mentally with anxiety and stress and could not get herself right. As such, she felt it was best to “take a back seat” and let her teammates compete without having to see her struggle, and the result was an impressive silver medal finish, via ESPN’s Michele Steele.

Biles said she hoped to try and compete in the individual competitions, but would have to see where she is at and the US Olympic Committee CEO offered Biles her full support and made sure to tell her how proud they are of her.

The most important thing is that Biles takes the time needed to take care of her mental health. The mental focus required in gymnastics is critical, not just to score well but to simply not injure oneself, particularly doing skills at the degree of difficulty Biles does. Credit to Biles for also talking about it, not because she has to, but because it can help others see that even the very best in the world can have days where stress and anxiety derail them and that it’s OK, even on the Olympic stage, to recognize that and take a step back to take care of yourself.

This moment, in particular, when she spoke to her teammates after deciding to withdraw the rest of the way shows her incredible strength and leadership even as she was dealing with immense internal stress as she offered continued poise and instilled confidence in her teammates in such a critical moment.