Biles' devastating explanation for quitting

1 month ago 19
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Simone Biles says that she withdrew midway through the Olympic gymnastics team final because she felt so unwell that she might cost USA a medal.

Biles withdrew after blowing her opening vault, sending watchers into meltdown and later citing mental health concerns. The USA went on to win silver, behind the Russian Olympic Committee's gold medallists.

"No injury, thankfully - and that's why I took a step back, because I didn't want to do something silly out there and get injured," Biles, 24, said.

"I thought it was best if these girls took over and did the rest of the job, which they absolutely did. They're Olympic silver medallists now and they should be really proud of themselves for how they did, last minute, having to go in.

"It's been really stressful, this Olympic Games, I think just as a whole. Not having an audience, there are a lot of different variables going into it.

"It's been a long week, it's been a long Olympic process, it's been a long year. So just a lot of different variables and I think we're just a little bit too stressed out. We should be out here having fun and sometimes that's not the case."

Simone Biles of Team USA supports her teammates by carrying their chalk after pulling out of the Women's Team Final. (Getty)

Biles said that despite losing the Olympic title, the team was better off without her, given her fragile head space. She initially left the floor but returned to cheer on her teammates, even running out their chalk when needed.

"I just felt like it would be a little bit better to take a back seat, work on my mindfulness, and I knew that the girls would do an absolutely great job," she said.

"I didn't want to risk the team a medal for my screw-ups because they've worked way too hard for that."

Biles - a four-time gold medallist at Rio 2016 - said it was "unfortunate" that her blown vault had cost the team points from the outset, which they could not claw back from the Russians.

"I feel like I robbed them of a couple of tenths and we could have been a little bit higher in the rankings," she said.

"I was like, I think the girls need to do the rest of the competition without me.

"They were like, 'I promise you you're fine, we watched you warm up'. I said, 'No - I know I'm going to be fine but I can't risk a medal for the team, so I need to call it'.

"You usually don't hear me say things like that because I'll usually persevere and push through things; but not to cost the team a medal. So they were like, 'OK, if Simone says this, then we need to take it pretty serious'. I had the correct people around me to do that."

Simone Biles competing in the Women's Team Final before her withdrawal. (Getty)

Biles teammates backed her decision. Her replacement, Jordan Chiles, performed well during the event; though fell on the final floor routine while trying to gain ground on the Russians.

"We're fighters. We fought through this whole competition as a team and not as individuals," Chiles said.

"That's what we needed. At the end of the day, no matter what happened, we were just proud that we were able to do what we were doing with losing somebody that's so great.

"That was a huge thing. When I was told that I had to put my grips on, I was just like O-M-G. Those were definitely some big shoes that I had to fill and I'm very happy that I was able to do that. Yes, she is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). I was able to show the world that not only can you fill amazing people's shoes but we also did this together as well."

Jordan Chiles and Simone Biles of Team United States. (Getty)

Fellow teammate Sunisa Lee said: "We were all so stressed. We honestly didn't know in that moment. She's freaking Simone Biles. She carries the team basically. When we kind of had to step up to the plate and do what we had to do, it was very hard and stressful. But I'm very proud of us because we did that."

Biles said: "Whenever you get in a high stress situation you kind of freak out. I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardise my health and wellbeing."

"We have to protect our body and our mind. It just sucks when you're fighting with your own head.

"For me, I'm proud for how the girls stepped up and did what they had to do. I owe this to the girls, it has nothing to do with me. I am very proud of them."

Simone Biles of Team United States stumbles upon landing in the vault. (Getty)

Biles is aiming to return for the individual events. The all-round final is on Thursday, followed by the individual apparatus finals through to Tuesday.

"We're going to take it a day at a time. I know tomorrow we have a half day, at least the morning off. So it will be a good mental rest. So we will take it from there," she said.

"Hopefully, I'll get back out there and complete [in] a couple more events.

"I'm OK. Just dealing with some things internally which will get fixed out in the next couple of days.

"And you know, there's 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."

USA's Jordan Chiles, Simone Biles, Grace McCallum and Sunisa Lee during the medal ceremony. (Getty)

Biles said that she had struggled with the pressure of being "head star" coming into the Olympics, including a barrage of attention on social media.

Biles former US gymnastics teammate, Aly Raisman, backed the megastar for putting her mental health first.

"Simone Biles is human," Raisman, who won gold with Biles at Rio 2016, told CNN.

"It just shows unfortunately that even the best athletes in the world… they have good days and bad days, and I commend her for her bravery and speaking up and doing what was right for her and what she felt was right for the team, it's not easy.

Raisman said that USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee "really have to take a hard look at the way they're treating their athletes. When I was competing, there was really no resources and mental health wasn't really a discussion.

"I'm praying that she's OK, I'm praying that she gets the support and love that she needs."

Raisman earlier wrote on Twitter: "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 and so I'm just completely devastated and obviously so worried and just hoping Simone's OK.

"I'm also thinking about the mental impact this has to have on Simone. It's just so much pressure and I've been watching how much pressure has been on her the months leading up to the Games and it's just devastating. I feel horrible."

"Just a friendly reminder: Olympic athletes are human & they're doing the best they can. It's REALLY hard to peak at the right moment & do the routine of your life under such pressure."

Simone Biles of USA nearly falls during the gymnastics artistic Women's Team Final. (Getty)

The wider reaction to Biles' decision was largely positive.

"Simone, you've made us so proud. Proud of who you are as a person, teammate and athlete," said Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the US Olympic and Pralympic Committee.

"We applaud your decision to prioritise your mental wellness over all else, and offer you the full support and resources of our Team USA community as you navigate the journey ahead."

Former Olympic judo medallist and UFC superstar Ronda Rousey slammed those criticising Biles.

"Everyone judging @Simone_Biles doesnt know their foot from their asshole when it comes to being in her position," Rousey wrote on Twitter.

"She's on the Olympic team while you're on Twitter. Whatever is going on cannot be grasped from outside. She's doing the absolute best she can given the situation she's in."

Simone Biles of Team United States gets the chalk for her teammates. (Getty)

There was, of course, other sections of commentators who slammed Biles and deemed her unworthy of praise for withdrawing.

"Scottie Pippen STILL gets crushed for pulling himself out of a playoff game against the Knicks because a play wasn't called for him. And the blue check brigade on here wants to tell me Simone Biles is a hero for quitting in the middle of a team event? This is crazy," Outkick's Clay Travis wrote on Twitter.

"I mean, athletes can quit on their teams whenever they want. It's their right. But it isn't remotely heroic or praiseworthy. And anyone who has ever been on a team at any level would be furious if a teammate said the moment was too big and they refused to play in the biggest game.

"This is why most of us put our kids in athletics in the first place — to learn how to handle pressure, work as teammates, & succeed or fail in competition. These are traits that carry forward in life, long after sports are over. It's why my kids are in sports now.

"The blue check brigade has so terrified people that saying, 'Hey, don't quit on your team in the middle of its biggest event every four years after taking a spot from someone who wouldn't have quit,' is somehow unacceptable. This is the fundamental rule of team sports!"

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