‘The outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before,’ Biles tweeted on Wednesday night.
Biles, who won four gold medals at the
The decision to withdraw from the team final – following a very uncharacteristic error on her first event, the vault – sparked furious controversy online, with critics accusing her of ‘abandoning’ her three teammates, two of whom were forced to take her place in the three other events at the last minute.
Biles later hinted that the horrific sexual abuse she endured at the hands of pedophile doctor Larry Nassar is behind the mental health issues that prompted her shock withdrawal.
The 24-year-old drew a line between the trauma of Nassar’s abuse and her decision to pull out of both the team and individual all-around medal events for the first time when she retweeted a statement of support from a fellow gymnast – who hit out at critics of the sporting superstar, while reminding the world that Biles was ‘molested by her team doctor throughout her entire childhood’.
‘We are talking about the same girl who was molested by her team doctor throughout her entire childhood and teenage years,’ the statement, which was written by former gymnast-turned-fitness trainer Andrea Orris, read.
It continued: ‘That girl has endured more trauma by the age of 24 than most people will ever go through in a lifetime.’
Although Biles, who was seen for the first time since the announcement when she stepped out to cheer on Team USA’s male gymnasts in Tokyo, did not issue her own statement about Nassar or her decision to pull out of the all-around, a US official told DailyMail.com that Orris’ message ‘sums up everything Simone is feeling and wants to say’.
The source continued: ‘The fact that Simone has retweeted it, shows that she agrees with every word that’s been said on her behalf.’
Biles, who has been incredibly outspoken in her criticism of USAG’s handling of the Nassar scandal, and her struggle to deal with the resulting trauma of his abuse, did not share her own statement – instead allowing the news to be shared by the organization that she has so frequently blasted for ‘failing’ to protect its gymnasts from the pedophile doctor.
Simone Biles thanked her fans for their ‘love and support’ after her shock withdrawal from the individual all-around final at the Tokyo Olympics in a tweet on Wednesday
Simone Biles (pictured today in Tokyo) has hinted that the abuse she suffered at the hands of pedophile doctor Larry Nassar is behind the mental health issues that pushed her to withdraw from the team and individual all-around finals
The 24-year-old revealed in 2018 that she was one of more than 150 gymnasts abused by the former national team doctor (right) during his 30-year career and she later admitted that the trauma of the abuse left her suffering with suicidal thoughts
Biles (seen with teammate Mykayla Skinner) retweeted a message of support from a former gymnast defending her decision to pull out of two finals, which read, in part: ‘We are talking about the same girl who was molested by her team doctor’
Despite the controversy surrounding her decision, Biles was seen smiling and waving to the crowds as she joined teammate Mykayla Skinner, 24, in cheering on the men’s team in the Ariake arena
‘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. 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 retweeted this message from Los Angeles fitness trainer Andrea Orris on Wednesday
Biles is one of more than 150 gymnasts who were abused by Nassar, the former national team doctor, during his 30-year career, and in 2019, she revealed that the trauma of the assaults had left her struggling with suicidal thoughts.
She also re-posted a tweet that claimed her decision to pull out of the team final actually ‘helped’ the US to win a silver medal
At the time, she admitted that she was ‘sleeping all the time’ because it was ‘the closest thing to death’, while revealing that she was undergoing therapy in order to deal with the abuse.
Now, for the first time, Biles, who is believed to be the only Nassar victim still competing on an international level, has indicated that the abuse – and the fallout from the scandal – led to her decision to pull out of the team final and the all-around final.
Biles’ fellow Team USA gymnast Jade Carey, 21, who finished ninth in qualifying, will take her place in the all-around.
Carey initially did not qualify because she was the third-ranking American gymnast behind Biles and Sunisa Lee; International Gymnastics Federation rules state that only two athletes per country can take part in the individual event finals.
Following Tuesday’s withdrawal, where the US ultimately finished second to the Russian Olympic Committee, Biles – widely referred to as the the ‘greatest of all time’ (GOAT) in her sport – said she wanted to concentrate on ‘what’s right for me and focus on my mental health’.
Speaking about her sensational exit from competition, which cleared the way for Team USA’s Russian rivals to claim gold in a dramatic upset, Biles said that she made the decision both to prioritize her own ‘wellbeing’ – and out of fear that she would cost her teammates their shot at winning a medal.
‘To focus on my wellbeing,’ she told reporters of her reasons for pulling out of the competition following a shock flub on the vault, echoing the statement issued by tennis pro Naomi Osaka, 23, when she pulled out of the French Open earlier this year because of her own mental health struggles.
‘It is very unfortunate that it has to happen at this stage because I definitely wanted this Olympics to go a little bit better but again, we’ll take it one day at a time and we’re going to see how the rest goes.’
She later added: ‘I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to. I don’t know if it’s age, but I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics.
‘I feel like I’m also not having as much fun, and I know that this Olympic Games I wanted to do it for myself, and I was still doing it for other people, so that just hurts my heart badly, that doing what I love has been taken away.
Pictured: The full statement from USA Gymnastics posted on social media announcing Biles’ withdrawal from the all-around competition
Biles’ appearance at the men’s competition is the first time she has been seen in public since her withdrawal from the all-around was announced
She sat in between male gymnast Alec Yoder and teammate Mykayla Skinner, whose Olympics came to an end during the qualifying events, when she failed to earn a spot in any of the individual finals
Biles pepped up at one point and was seen blowing a kiss to the cameras
‘Whenever you get in a high stress situation, you kind of freak out. 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.’
She doubled down on her statement about not wanting to jeopardize her team’s shot at a medal on Wednesday, when she re-posted a tweet in which it was pointed out that she could have cost her teammates their second-place finish if she had continued competing in the final.
‘….did she cost the team a gold medal? Or did her decision help her team win a silver medal? ….because if she had a really bad performance her team would not have placed at all,’ the tweet read.
While Biles’ decision to withdraw from the team final drew much backlash, dozens of social media users have also spoken out in defense of the athlete – with popstar Justin Bieber voicing his support of the gymnast on Instagram on Wednesday afternoon, comparing her decision to withdraw from the finals to his own choice to end his Purpose tour mid-way through in 2017.
‘Nobody will ever understand the pressures you face! I know we don’t know each other but I’m so proud of the decision to withdraw. It’s as simple as – what does it mean to gain the whole world but forfeit your soul,’ the singer wrote in a lengthy captioned that was posted alongside a photo of Biles.
‘Sometimes our no’s are more powerful than our yes’s. When what you normally love starts to steal your joy it’s important we take a step back to evaluate why.
‘People thought I was crazy for not finishing the purpose tour but it was the best thing I could have done for my mental health!! So proud of you @simonebiles.’
Her supporters also included Orris, who slammed Biles’ critics while praising her for ‘all she has done for the sport’.
‘It makes me so frustrated to see comments about Simone not being mentally tough enough or quitting on her team,’ she statement – which was posted on Twitter by martial artist Brandon Marino and then retweeted by Simone – began.
Orris continued: ‘We are talking about the same girl who… won the world all-around championship title while passing a kidney stone. Put her body through an extra year of training through the pandemic. Added so much difficulty to her routines that the judges literally do not know how to properly rate her skills [because] they are so ahead of her time.
‘All this while maintaining her responsibilities to her endorsement deals, the media, personal relationships, etc. And some people can still honestly say, “Simone Biles is soft. She is a quitter.”‘
The former gymnast, who is based in Los Angeles and is not known to have ever trained with Biles, pointed out that the error made by the 2016 Olympic all-around champion on vault would have left the majority of athletes suffering from a serious injury, explaining that there are few people who could have managed to land on their feet after bailing on a skill in mid-air.
‘For non-gymnasts, the fact that she balked mid-air and accidentally did a 1.5 on her first vault instead of a 2.5 is a big deal. It’s terrifying,’ Orris stated. ‘She could have been severely injured getting lost in the air like that. The fact she somehow landed on her feet shows her experience and is incredible.’
Biles posted an affectionate message on Instagram this morning to her teammate Jordan Chiles, along with a picture of them both dancing with their silver medals
Shortly after re-posting the statement on her own Twitter account, Biles was seen publicly for the first time since announcing her shock withdrawal from the all-around final.
The gymnast was seen cheering on Team USA’s male gymnasts in Tokyo while sitting alongside her teammate Mykayla Skinner.
Although she initially smiled and waved for the cameras – even blowing kisses at the photographers at one point – the gymnast appeared to struggle in the spotlight, and was seen briefly putting her head in her hands.
She was also pictured holding hands with Skinner while watching her male teammates compete.
One onlooker said: ‘I can’t believe that she is here after she made such a big deal about wanting to stay out of the public eye and find some peace.
‘It just doesn’t add up. Why is she back in the public arena. Why isn’t she just resting and recovering.’
Interestingly, Skinner’s future at the Olympics Games actually rests on Biles’ decision about whether or not to compete in the remaining four event finals that she has qualified for.
Skinner narrowly missed out on a place in the vault final because of the two-athlete-per-country rule – despite finishing in fourth place in the qualifying round, behind Biles, Carey, and Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade. Should Biles choose to pull out of the event, Skinner would be next in line to take her spot – just as Carey has now done for the all-around final.
Before Biles’ Olympic future was thrown into doubt, Skinner had expressed her ‘heartbreak’ over her failure to qualify for any individual finals, which meant that her competition ended after the first day of events.
In the other event finals, Biles’ spot would be handed to athletes from other countries; on the uneven bars, she would likely be replaced by French athlete Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos, while Japan’s Urara Ashikawa would be given a chance on the balance beam. British gymnast Jennifer Gadirova, who helped to propel her team to a surprise bronze medal finish in Tuesday’s competition, is next in line to compete in the floor exercise.
As well as stepping out to cheer on her male teammates, Biles also posted an affectionate message on Instagram this morning to her teammate Chiles, along with a picture of them both dancing with the silver medals.
She wrote:’ Love you, so happy for you!!!!!!!’
Chiles also posted a picture of them together in front of an emblem of the Olympic rings and wrote: ‘To my best friend, just thinking about everything we have gone through together …from us getting mad at each other for no reason to laughing at jokes, to bringing the love of this sport back to me with your help words can’t explain how proud I am of you.
‘I LOVE YOU and am literally crying just thinking about everything. WE did this together.
‘This medal is definitely for (Biles),’ Chiles told reporters. ‘If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t be here where we are right now. We wouldn’t be a silver medalist because of who she is as a person.’
Biles came to Tokyo as arguably the face of the Games following the retirement of swimmer Michael Phelps and sprinter Usain Bolt.
She topped qualifying on Sunday despite piling up mandatory deductions on vault, floor and beam following shaky dismounts.
She posted on social media on Monday that she felt the weight of the world on her shoulders. The weight became too heavy after vaulting during team finals. She lost herself in mid-air and completed 1 1/2 twists instead of 2 1/2. She consulted with U.S. team doctor Marcia Faustin before walking off the field of play.
Support: Popstar Justin Bieber spoke out to praise Biles in a candid Instagram caption on Wednesday, when he compared her withdrawal from the finals to his own cancelation of his Purpose tour in 2017
The four-time gold medal winner has quit tomorrow night’s individual all-round event and will not be able to defend her Olympic title
When she returned, she took off her bar grips, hugged teammates Sunisa, Grace and Jordan and turned into the team’s head cheerleader as the U.S. claimed silver behind the Russian Olympic Committee.
‘Once I came out here (to compete), I was like, `No mental is, not there so I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself,” Biles said following the medal ceremony.
The 24-year-old had pulled out after one rotation of the women’s team final on Tuesday in Tokyo, citing mental health concerns.
An American Olympic official told MailOnline: ‘It might have been too soon for Simone to re-appear on the Olympic stage tomorrow night. We support her decision to withdraw.
Will Simone Biles continue ANY of her individual quests for gold? Gymnast’s finals thrown into doubt
After her shock withdrawal from the team final and tomorrow’s individual all-round, Simone Biles’ future at the Tokyo Olympics is in serious doubt.
She is still scheduled to take part in the finals for the vault, uneven bars, floor exercise, and balance beam.
Should she choose to take part – and provided she gets the all-clear from USA Gymnastics – Biles’ upcoming events schedule is:
- SUNDAY, AUGUST 1: Vault final and uneven bars final
- MONDAY, AUGUST 2: Floor exercise final
- TUESDAY, AUGUST 3: Balance beam final
Biles struggled in qualifying for these events, ending up in the eighth and final spot for uneven bars, the sixth spot for balance beam, and the second spot on floor exercise.
‘There would have been even greater attention on her and that is the very thing which has been adding to her state of mind. It cannot be easy for her.
‘But she is receiving a lot of help and guidance – and a whole lotta love as well.
‘You have seen what she said about mindfulness and that is the big priority for all of us.
‘Anything she does at these Olympics will ultimately be in the best interest for her. She just needs to get some rest and we all need to evaluate the next step.
‘It has to be 100 per cent Simone’s health first. She is already an Olympic champion and has no reason to feel anything but pride.
But it was revealed that behind then scenes Simone was in tears with officials and talking about ‘demons’ which had been affecting her mental state.
After yesterday’s withdrawal, Biles had spoken out to praise the ‘bravery’ of her Olympic teammates and thank them for ‘stepping up when she couldn’t’.
The 24-year-old cited her mental health struggles as the reason for her shock exit, said she made the decision to prioritize her own ‘wellbeing’ while insisting ‘there is more to life than just gymnastics’.
‘It is very unfortunate that it has to happen at this stage because I definitely wanted this Olympics to go a little bit better but again, we’ll take it one day at a time and we’re going to see how the rest goes,’ Biles told reporters.
The gymnast also insisted that her decision to pull out of the competition after just one event – when she was due to take part in all four – was made, in part, to help her team, saying that she ‘didn’t want to risk the team medal’ with her ‘screw up’.
‘I thought it was best that these girls took over the job which they absolutely did,’ she continued, saying that the shock upset made them ‘stronger’ as a team. ‘They are Olympic silver medalists now and they should be really proud of themselves now for how well they did last minute.’
Following the announcement, Biles received an outpouring of support on social media from fellow athletes, former Olympians and celebrities alike, all supporting her decision to withdraw on the grounds of her mental health.
US swimming legend Michael Phelps, three-time US Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman and Britain’s double Olympic gymnastics champion Whitlock were among the gymnasts to praise Biles, along with tennis icon Billie Jean King, Coco Gauff and former football star Landon Donovan who also sent messages of support to their compatriot.
The athletes were joined with the likes of Michelle Obama,
The four-time gold medal winner decided not to compete in Thursday’s finals after consulting with Team US officials following her dismal withdrawal from the team competition on Tuesday
The 24-year-old – who had been expected to lead the US to gold in the team event – was withdrawn from the lineup after flubbing her vault in the opening minutes of the team final competition in Tokyo on Tuesday
Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles was pulled out of the team final because of a ‘mental issue’ following a shock error on vault – leaving her forced to watch from the sidelines as her teammates suffered an agonizing defeat to their Russian rivals
All praised Biles for shining a spotlight on the importance of mental health, particularly in sport where it is often overlooked, with more prominence given to the physical wellbeing of athletes that are constantly in the public eye.
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, who was the captain of both The Fierce Five and The Final Five, criticized USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee for what she deems as lack of leadership and support for their athletes.
‘USA Gymnastics has been an absolute disaster for years and unfortunately not enough has changed for us to believe in a safer future, but I think this just really shows the lack of leadership [of] USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee,’ Raisman told
She argues that Biles’ sudden exit from the final could be an indicator of a larger problem within the organizations.
‘Their best athlete is struggling… is there someone there to help her?’ said Raisman. ‘I don’t know. I’m not there, so I don’t know. But I think it’s an important question that we should be asking.’
The Olympian, who cited her own experiences, acknowledged that being a star athlete in the global spotlight is ‘a tremendous amount of pressure’.
‘I’m completely devastated and I support [Biles] so much,’ she added. ‘I feel sick to my stomach. It’s horrible. I know that all of these athletes dream of this moment for their whole entire lives so I’m just completely devastated and just hoping Simone’s OK.
‘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.
‘Just a friendly reminder: Olympic athletes are human and they’re doing the best they can. It’s really hard to peak at the right moment and do the routine of your life under such pressure.’
US swimming legend Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 28 medals, talked about the need for mental health resources for Olympic athletes after Biles’ withdrawal, having revealed back in 2018 he suffered with depression himself and contemplated suicide after the 2012 London Games.
Dramatic: Shortly after her vault, Biles was seen leaving the floor with a Team USA coach and a member of the medical staff, sparking fears that she had sustained a serious injury
Difficult: Video captured the moment that Simone shared the news of her withdrawal with her devastated teammates, who were left on the verge of tears by her shock announcement
Support: The gymnast hugged each of her fellow Team USA athletes and reassured them that they were ‘going to be fine’, saying: ‘You’ve been training your whole entire lives for this’
‘We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders, and it’s challenging especially when we have the lights on us and all of these expectations being thrown on top of us.
‘We’re human beings. Nobody is perfect. It’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to go through ups and down and emotional rollercoasters. The biggest thing is, we all need to ask for help when we go through those times. It was hard for me to ask for help.
‘I felt like I was carrying, like Simone said, the weight of the world on my shoulders. It’s a tough situation. I hope this is an eye-opening experience.’
Britain’s double Olympic gymnastics champion Whitlock also offered his support to Biles minutes after the announcement and lavished praise on her for her accomplishments in the sport.
Taking to Twitter, he wrote: ‘You’ve pushed boundaries time and time again. Rest up and take time.’
Swimming legend Michael Phelps was one of several present-day and former athletes to sympathize with Biles and commend her for prioritizing her mental health
Three-time Olympic medalist Paul Gasol, who is a Spanish basketball player, also sent a message to Biles, writing: ‘All my support to Simone Biles.
‘Mental health is a key component of our health, and it MUST be a priority always. We need the sports world to focus on emotional and mental well-being a lot more.’
‘Someone said it best. @Simone_Biles already won. She is a class act. Withdrew from team [competition] after vault… stayed and cheered on her teammates… got them chalk for their hands.. encouraged.. hugged them. She already won. Congrats on the silver medal!’ tweeted Kotb, who is in Toyko covering the Olympic Games for NBC.
Handler commented: ‘@Simone_Biles drew a boundary for herself and her health on the world stage. This is real superhuman strength, setting an example for all of us.’
While DeGeneres wrote: ‘@Simone_Biles, you’re solid gold in my book.’
Former first lady Michelle Obama echoed the outpour of support for Biles in a
‘Am I good enough? Yes, I am. The mantra I practice daily,’ Obama wrote. ‘@Simone_Biles, we are proud of you and we are rooting for you. Congratulations on the the silver medal, Team @USA!’
Biles even received words of support from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who insisted the gymnast is still the ‘Greatest of All Time.’
‘Gratitude and support are what @Simone_Biles deserves,’ Psaki tweeted from her personal account. ‘Still the GOAT and we are all just lucky to be able to see her in action. And congrats and tks to the tough as nails #TeamUSA @sunisalee_ , @ChilesJordan , @grace_mccallum2 for being role models and champs.’
Biles also received support from Athleta, the Gap-owned women’s sports apparel company that also serves as one of Biles’ sponsors.
‘We stand by Simone and support her well-being both in and out of competition,’ Athleta Chief Brand Officer Kyle Andrew said in a statement obtained by
U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland applauded Biles for prioritizing her ‘mental wellness over all else’ and offered the organization’s full support.
USA Gymnastics women’s program vice-president called Biles’ act ‘incredibly selfless.’
Support system: Ellen DeGeneres, Chelsea Handler, and Hoda Kotb were among the celebrities who took to Twitter to show their support for Biles
Former first lady Michelle Obama echoed the outpour of support for Biles in a tweet
Despite claiming a silver medal alongside her teammates, who were left on the verge of tears when Biles withdrew, the sporting superstar insisted the second-place finish had ‘nothing to do with her’ and gave full credit to Lee, Chiles and McCallum.
‘This medal is all of them and the coaches and nothing to do with me,’ she said.
Biles – who had been expected to lead the US to gold – was withdrawn from the lineup after flubbing her vault in the opening minutes of the team final competition in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The gymnast admitted that she is ‘dealing with some things internally’, but seemingly vowed to return to competition in time for the all-around final, having gone into the Olympics as the favorite to win the gold.
She thanked Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee, and Jordan Chiles for ‘having her back’, saying that she was ‘inspired by their determination’
The gymnast also posted a simple white heart on Twitter
‘I’m OK,’ Biles said later. ‘Just dealing with some things internally which will get fixed out in the next couple of days.’
When asked by the BBC whether she is planning to take part in the upcoming all-around final in two days, she had replied simply: ‘Yes.’
However, when speaking to the Today show, Biles confessed that her determination to take part in the event – where she would be defending her championship title – is not enough to cement her place in the lineup, saying: ‘We’re going to take it day by day, and we’re just going to see.’
She went on: ‘Physically, I feel good, I’m in shape. Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming to the Olympics and being head star isn’t an easy feat, so we’re just trying to take it one day at a time and we’ll see.’
Opening up about her determination to prioritize her mental health Biles praised the other athletes — like tennis player Naomi Osaka who quit the French Open earlier this year, citing her own mental health problems — who have spoken out about their own struggles, insisting that it has become a more important issue than ever.
‘I have to focus on my mental health,’ Biles said. ‘I just think mental health is more prevalent in sports right now… we have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do.’
She admitted that her confidence has taken a serious knock as a result of her mental health issues, confessing: ‘I don’t trust myself as much anymore… maybe it’s getting older. There were a couple of days when everybody tweets you and you feel the weight of the world.
‘We’re not just athletes, we’re people at the end of the day and sometimes you just have to step back. ‘I didn’t want to go out and do something stupid and get hurt. ‘I feel like a lot of athletes speaking up has really helped. It’s so big, it’s the Olympic Games, at the end of the day we don’t want to be carried out of there on a stretcher.
‘You have to be there 100 percent or 120 percent or you’re going to hurt yourself.’
In a poignant twist, Biles’ sensational exit from the team final came just hours after Osaka, who is representing her home nation of Japan at the Tokyo Games, crashed out of the Olympic competition in the third round in yet another dramatic upset.
Speaking about the uncharacteristic error in a post-event press conference, a remarkably composed Biles confessed that she felt as though she had ‘robbed’ her teammates of a fighting chance to claim the gold, saying: ‘It’s really unfortunate to have a score like that go up there for the team. I feel I robbed them… We could have been a little bit higher in the rankings.
‘I didn’t do my job. They came out and they stepped up. They did what they needed to do.’
Simone confessed that her decision to withdraw from the final was inspired by athletes like Naomi Osaka (seen as she crashed out of the Olympics in the third round on Tuesday) – who voiced a similar sentiment about her own mental health struggles when she quit the French Open earlier this year
In an Instagram post shared shortly after the team final came to a close, Biles once again praised her teammates for their performance, thanking them for ‘fighting through adversity’ and ‘stepping up when she couldn’t’.
‘I’m SO proud of these girls right here,’ she wrote, while sharing an image of the four-woman squad proudly 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.’
She left the stadium with her trainer and was closely followed by medical staff – sparking fears that she had sustained a serious injury.
Moments later, it was announced that she had been pulled out of Team USA’s uneven bars lineup, and shortly after, it was revealed that she had been taken out of the competition altogether.
Video captured the moment that the gymnast shared the news with her three teammates, telling them that she was ‘sorry’, but insisting that they were ‘going to do great’ because they had ‘been training for this their whole lives’.
In the five years since Biles and her US teammates put on a dazzling display on their way to gold in Rio de Janeiro, gymnastics has undergone a serious reckoning.
USAG said that Simone will be ‘assessed daily’ to determine whether she can compete in the individual event finals – meaning that her Olympics could well come to a very swift and very dramatic end, dashing her hopes of adding five more gold medals to her already-impressive tally
The customs in a sport where obedience, discipline and silence were long considered as important as talent and artistry are seen to be changing.
Biles has become an outspoken advocate for athlete’s rights and the importance of proper mental health, and Tuesday’s event final is not the first time that Biles has opened up about her mental health issues.
In 2019, the gymnast revealed that she was left struggling with suicidal thoughts while trying to deal with the abuse she suffered at the hands of USAG’s pedophile doctor Larry Nassar.
Biles was one of more than 150 women who was abused by the USA Gymnastics national team doctor during his 30-year career. He was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison in 2018.
Speaking out about the long-lasting trauma of the abuse in an interview with Priyanka Chopra Jonas, the athlete admitted that she was ‘very depressed’ after openly revealing that she had been a victim of Nassar, having ‘denied’ and ‘buried’ the abuse for years.
She revealed that she began ‘sleeping all the time’, confessing that she remained in her room and in bed ‘because it was the closest thing to death’.
During the candid conversation, Biles reflected on the moment she realized she was being abused, and the heartbreaking moment that she shared the realization with her mother, Nellie.
Simone looked devastated as the news of her withdrawal was announced and she was seen being comforted by one of her coaches, Cecile Landi
Team USA had gone into the Olympics as the favorites to win the final, but their journey got off to a very rocky start in the qualifying competition when they made a series of uncharacteristic errors
Pictured: Team USA, including Simone Biles (second right), pose with their silver medals
‘I called [my friend] and I asked her the definition of ‘sexually abused,’ because some of my other friends, they had had it worse than me,’ she recalled. ‘She said, ‘If he did that and that, you’ve been sexually abused.”
The athlete said she initially brushed off her friend’s words because wasn’t ‘willing to put that out there for the world to see.’ She didn’t want people to see her as a sexual abuse survivor instead of ‘Simone the gymnast.’
‘And, so, I denied it and I buried it. And I was very depressed. I never left my room. I was sleeping all the time,’ she recalled.
‘I told one of my lawyers, I said, ‘I sleep all the time because it’s the closest thing to death.”
Earlier this month, Biles again opened up about the horrifying abuse she suffered, this time in a docuseries for Facebook Watch.
‘I slept all the time and it’s because sleeping was basically better than offing myself,’ she said as tears welled up in her eyes. ‘It was like my way to escape reality, and sleeping was like the closest thing to death for me at that point. So I just slept all the time.’
As a competitive athlete, she struggled with not knowing when she would start healing from the trauma she endured.
‘With gymnasts, if you get injured, you’re like, okay, your heal time is four to six weeks, but then with something so traumatic that happens like this, well it’s no four to six weeks, so it’s hard for us to process that,’ she explained. ‘There’s like actually no time limit or healing time for it, so you just take it day by day.’
Biles has also led the very public criticism of USAG’s handling of the Nassar scandal, accusing the organization of ‘failing so many athletes’ during an interview with 60 Minutes in February of this year.
Opening up about the bitterness she still feels towards USAG, the gymnast confessed that she was struggling with the decision to continue to compete for the organization, saying: ‘I don’t feel comfortable.’
‘They haven’t taken accountability for their actions and what they’ve done,’ she added. ‘And they haven’t ensured us that it’s never going to happen again.’
Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison, but Biles said she believed there are still too many questions about the scandal that remain unanswered by USAG and the U.S. Olympic Committee. She has repeatedly called for an independent investigation into what happened.
‘Oh, it’s far from over. Just who knew what, when?’ she said. ‘You guys have failed so many athletes. And most of us underage. You guys don’t think that’s a bigger problem? Like, if that were me and I knew something I’d want it resolved immediately.’
The gold-medal-winning gymnast said she ‘one hundred per cent’ feels the organization has failed her, adding: ‘We bring them medals. We do our part. You can’t do your part in return? It’s just, like, it’s sickening.’