Simone Biles Has Teammates’ Support After Olympic Withdrawal to Protect Her Mental Health

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It’s official: American gymnast Simone Biles will not be competing in the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

In a statement released by USA Gymnastics on social media, Biles officially withdrew on Wednesday to “focus on her mental health” one day after pulling out of the team gymnastics finals. “Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals,” the statement read. “Jade Carey, who had the ninth highest score in qualifications, will participate in her place in the all-around.” USA Gymnastics extended their support towards Biles’ decision to withdraw, lauding her prioritization of her mental health as an act of “bravery.”

According to The New York Times, Biles twisted fewer times than she had planned during vault on Tuesday. Per AP, Biles afterwards left the podium and consulted with the team doctor, returning to the area in a sweatsuit. She did not compete in uneven bars following vault — instead, teammate Jordan Chiles stepped in.

Biles later told reporters that she had “a little bit of the twisties,” which is a disconnection between the body and the mind that some gymnasts can experience in which they become disoriented while twisting in the air, unable to control or track their bodies regardless of how many times they’ve practiced and completed the skill.

“I had no idea where I was in the air,” Biles said. “I could have hurt myself.”

Many former gymnasts empathized with Biles on social media, explaining that mental blocks like the twisties commonly occur while under pressure and can be extremely dangerous to even basic gymnasts, let alone gymnasts of Biles’ caliber. Biles has spoken on social media about the pressure she’s endured leading up to this year’s Olympic games, saying she feels as though she has “the weight of the world” on her shoulders. The 24-year-old has dominated the sport since she began competing. For Biles, the most decorated gymnast of all-time with four Olympic gold medals under her belt, the expectations are high — which makes the stakes of injury even higher amidst mental health challenges.

“We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day we’re human, too,” Biles told reporters after her initial withdrawal on Tuesday. “So, we have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”

Biles has faced harsh criticism for her decision to withdraw to protect her mental health, but has also received waves of support from the public and fellow professional athletes like Michael Phelps and former teammates Aly Raisman and Laurie Hernandez.

In an interview with TODAY on Wednesday, current U.S. gymnastics team members Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum made clear their support for their teammate “no matter what.” "She's Simone for a reason,” said Chiles. “She's not a quitter. You will never see Simone just go out there and not do what she knows she can do."

According to the Los Angeles Times, during a news conference on Tuesday following Biles’ withdrawal, Chiles comforted Biles as she spoke to the press. “I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to and I don’t know if it’s age,” Biles said. “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 it to be for myself… I came in and I felt like I was still doing it for other people, so it hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”

It is currently unclear whether Biles will be competing in the upcoming individual events next week, but per USA Gymnastics’ statement, she will be assessed daily. Many have pointed out that Biles’ resilience is astounding — she’s previously competed and won with broken toes, a kidney stone, and while publicly navigating the trauma of sexual abuse. While it takes an incredible amount of determination and force to persevere, it can be argued that it takes an even greater amount of strength to prioritize rest. Only Biles knows how long her step back from the mat will last, but one thing is for sure: she has the support of so many behind her, including teammates and best friends like Chiles.

"I am her teammate, I am her best friend, like she said. This is the moment that I think that I truly realize that I've gotten so much closer to her than I really thought,” said Chiles. “She's my ride or die. I will forever be by her side."

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Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: Simone Biles Pulls Out of 2020 Olympics Team Competition

Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue