Champion gymnast Simone Biles said on Wednesday that the supportive response to her withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics has made her realise she’s more than her sport.
“The outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realise I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before,” she tweeted.
Biles withdrew from the women’s gymnastics individual all-around final and the all-around team final last week. She said she was not in a good mental space to compete.
There’s been a wave of support for Biles over her decision to prioritise her well-being despite global pressure to perform. Numerous other gymnasts and athletes have revealed they’ve gone through similar challenges.
Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimming legend, said it broke his heart to hear of the gymnast’s struggles and said he related to the pressure Biles was feeling.
“I felt like I was carrying, as Simone said, the weight of the world on your shoulders, so yeah, it’s a tough situation,” he said.
Former Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu said she competed with a severe injury in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when she was just 14. She said Biles’s decision “demonstrates that we have a say in our own health – “a say” I NEVER felt I had as an Olympian.”
Michelle Obama also joined the avalanche of support, telling Biles she was proud of her.
“Am I good enough? Yes, I am. The mantra I practice daily,” the former first lady told Biles in a tweet. “We are proud of you and we are rooting for you.”
USA Gymnastics said it wholeheartedly supported Biles’s decision to step back and applauded her bravery in prioritising her well-being.
“Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many,” it said.