Biles’ “outpouring love & support,” she posted, made the 24-year-old “realize I’m more than my accomplishments.”
Superstar gymnast Simone Biles shared her gratitude for the “outpouring love” she received after she opted to sit out of team competition and the individual all-around at the Tokyo Olympics.
On Twitter Wednesday, Biles wrote, “the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.”
Simone Biles of Team United States smiles during the Women’s Team Final on Day Four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Supporters instantly rushed to reply to Biles’ post.
“Wow! Just wow o precious one,” singer-actress Jenifer Lewis tweeted. “I wish i had more words to offer other than grace. You are divinely just YOU and that’s enough for us. Carry on baby girl. You are so respected and admired. Thank you Simone for teaching me to be more courageous.”
Carly Patterson, the all-around gymnastics champ at the 2004 Olympics, wrote on Twitter, “I’ve loved watching you over the years, you have a lot to be proud of! Your accomplishments will always be yours, & even better than that you have so much life/happy times ahead of you beyond gymnastics.”
Biles’ withdrawal from team competition shocked fans around the world.
As previously reported, Biles spoke to reporters about her mental health, being inspired by tennis star Naomi Osaka and more. Explaining how she chose to protect her “body and mind,” the Olympian explained, “Whenever you get in a high-stress situation, you kind of freak out … I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being.”
“I felt like it would be better,” Biles said, “to take a back seat … I didn’t want to risk the team a medal because they worked way too hard for my screw-ups.”
She later also withdrew from the individual competition, and Team USA shared that they supported her decision, writing on Twitter, “We’re thinking of you, Simone. Your strength and courage to focus on your wellbeing is something we can all learn from. Thank you for being the leader you are.”
There has been criticism of Biles’s withdrawal, notably by Piers Morgan, who posted Tuesday on Twitter, “Are ‘mental health issues’ now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport? What a joke. Just admit you did badly, made mistakes, and will strive to do better next time. Kids need strong role models not this nonsense.”
Support for the athlete has been resounding, particularly from other athletes. Retired U.S. gymnast and gold medalist Dominique Moceanu tweeted about her own gold-medal competition at the 1996 Olympics.
“I was 14 y/o w/ a tibial stress fracture, left alone w/ no cervical spine exam after this fall,” she posted, with accompanying video footage. “I competed in the Olympic floor final minutes later. @Simone_Biles decision demonstrates that we have a say in our own health—“a say” I NEVER felt I had as an Olympian.”
She also tweeted, in direct response to Biles’ note: “Gymnastics is what you do … not who you are.”
There is speculation about whether Biles is retiring. However, in a June cover story interview with Glamour, she said, “I’ve already done quite a lot, but I’m still trying to reach new heights and see what I’m capable of.”
“I’m just really excited to see what’s out there in the world and to see what else I’m good at,” the 24-year-old told the magazine. “My coaches Cecile and Laurent are from Paris, so I think [the Paris 2024 Olympics] would be a good run to end with them there. I’ll see where we go.”
TheGrio’s Jared Alexander contributed to this report.
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