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Biles pulls out of another final after withdrawing from team event over mental health concerns

Written by on 27/07/2021

Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the individual all-around final in Tokyo after pulling out of the team event over mental health concerns.

USA Gymnastics confirmed Biles will not take part in her second final after “further medical evaluation”.

“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritising her wellbeing. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many,” said a statement on Thursday.

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Simone Biles pulls out of final after weak vault

It comes after Biles, who was vying for six Olympic golds in Tokyo, withdrew from the team gymnastics final, claiming: “I just didn’t want to go on.”

Biles, 24, is still yet to decide whether to take part in four individual finals, which are due to take place next week.

Her shock withdrawal from the team final was initially attributed to a “medical issue”.

Simone Biles takes a huge step forward as she lands after the completing the vault, shortly before she withdrew. Pic: AP
Image: Biles made an error when she took a huge step forward on landing after completing the vault. Pic: AP

But, speaking to reporters, Biles, who won four golds and a bronze in Rio 2016, said: “After the performance I did, I just didn’t want to go on.”

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She wasn’t hurt, she said, but had suffered “just a little injury to my pride”.

“I have to focus on my mental health. 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.

“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.”

Simone Biles in mid-flight during her ill-fated vault performance in the women's artistic gymnastics team final. Pic: AP
Image: Biles in mid-flight during her ill-fated vault performance. Pic: AP

Especially hard was the sense she was no longer doing gymnastics for herself, but for the rest of the world.

“It just sucks when you are fighting with your own head. You want to do it for yourself but you’re just too worried about what everybody else is going to say, think, the internet,” she said.

Without her, the American team finished second behind the Russian Olympic Committee.

Reflecting on the remaining events earlier this week, Biles added: “We’re going to take it a day at a time and see what happens. I’m just trying to gear up for the next test. I tried to go out there for the team and they stepped up to the plate.”

She admitted to feeling conflicted, adding: “It’s like fighting all those demons and coming out here. I have to put my pride aside. I have to do it for the team.

Simone Biles talks to her US team-mates during the final
Image: Simone Biles talks to her US teammates during the final

“And then at the end of the day, it’s like ‘you know what, I have to do what is right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardise my health and my well-being'”.

Biles kept open the possibility of still competing in Tokyo, but said she would take it a day at a time.

She admitted to regretting she won’t be able to have the chance of winning the six golds she was aiming for in Japan, which would have taken her personal tally to 10.

“It is very unfortunate that it has to happen at this stage because I definitely wanted these Olympics to go a little bit better. But again, take it one day at the time. We’ll see how the rest goes.”

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The record-breaking American athlete had a rocky start in the final, where the US was looking to secure a third straight Olympic title.

The 24-year-old bailed on her planned Amanar vault, opting for an easier one in mid-air, and then struggled with the landing.

The rare misstep allowed the gymnasts from Russia to open up a one-point lead after the first rotation and they went on to win.

Medal standings as of Tuesday
Image: Medal standings as of Tuesday

After huddling with her trainer, she left the competition floor with the team doctor before returning several minutes later with her right leg wrapped.

Team GB took a historic bronze after leap-frogging Italy on the last rotation.

 Sky News

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