Simone Biles praised for prioritising her mental health after withdrawing from Olympic events

28 July 2021, 17:39

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Katie Louise Smith

By Katie Louise Smith

Simone Biles will no longer compete in the Individual All-Around final at the Tokyo Olympics.

Simone Biles' decision to withdraw from two events at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo has sparked a huge conversation about mental health on social media.

Yesterday (July 27), the 24-year-old US Gymnastics hero, Olympian, and World Champion withdrew from the Women's Artistic Gymnastics Team event, citing the need to focus on her own mental health and protect "her body and mind." Team USA ended up winning the silver medal in the event.

Today (July 28), it’s been confirmed that Biles has now also withdrawn from the Individual All-Around event, ahead of the final that she had already qualified for. It's not yet been confirmed if she will still compete in her individual events. In a statement, USA Gymnastics said: “We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritising her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”

While fans all over the world are devastated to see Biles step away from the All-Around events, millions of people have showered the athlete with support and praise for putting her own mental health ahead of winning medals.

Simone Biles praised for prioritising mental health at Olympics
Simone Biles praised for prioritising mental health at Olympics. Picture: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images, LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

Earlier this week, Biles told her Instagram followers that she was feeling the “weight of the world” on her shoulders after Team USA came in second in the qualifying stage: “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.

"I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn't affect me but damn sometimes it's hard hahaha! The Olympics is no joke!”

Biles also told reporters that she was experiencing a "bit of the "twisties," which can be very dangerous for gymnasts when they aren't in the right headspace, and can often result in serious injury.

Celebrities, fellow athletes and people from all around the world sent messages of support to Biles on social media following the announcement of her decision to withdraw. Michelle Obama wrote: "Am I good enough? Yes, I am. The mantra I practice daily. @Simone_Biles, we are proud of you and we are rooting for you."

Another Twitter user wrote: "All of the hate that @Simone_Biles is getting just shows that we have a long way to go in reducing the stigma of mental health. Had she broke her leg none of y’all would be saying anything."

Others also praised Biles alongside 23-year-old Tennis player Naomi Osaka. In May, Osaka withdrew from the French Open due to the effect that speaking to the press has on her mental health.

Sending love to Simone Biles!