Olympic gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of the women’s team finals at the Tokyo Games Tuesday morning, paving the way for the Russian Olympic Committee to win the gold medal.
According to USA Gymnastics, Biles dropped out due to an undisclosed medical issue after faltering in the vault competition — the first event for the American team on Tuesday. “She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions,” the organization said in a statement.
Many speculated that Biles’ decision to drop was more about her mental health than her physical health. Biles has been vocal in saying that the pressure of being on a global stage like the Olympics has been harder than ever. A few hours later, Biles clarified that her decision was indeed made for the sake of her mental health.
“I’ve just never felt like this going into a competition before. I tried to go out here and have fun, and warm-up in the back went a little bit better. But once I came out here, I was like, ‘No, mental is not there, so I just need to let the girls do it and just focus on myself,’” Biles said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Jordan Chiles competed for Biles on the uneven bars — the American team’s second apparatus in the competition — with Biles cheering on from the sidelines. Team USA took the silver medal, while Great Britain claimed the bronze.
Biles added that she’s proud of her team and hopes they’re proud of themselves for winning silver.
“It’s been really stressful, this Olympic games, I think, just as a whole,” Biles said. “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. But we should be out here having fun, and sometimes that’s not the case.”
On Monday night, Biles’ former teammate Aly Raisman tweeted in support of all athletes competing, noting the toll it takes on their psyche. “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. Really hard,” Raisman wrote.
Speaking to NBC’s “Today” after news broke of Biles dropping out, Raisman said she’s “completely devastated” and “so worried” for the gymnast, further noting the importance of taking care of one’s mental health.
Early Tuesday morning, “Simone” started trending on Twitter, with fans — celebrity and otherwise — wishing her and the rest of the team well. Broadway star Patti Murin tweeted out support for Team USA using an apt theater analogy.
“Simone Biles not competing in the team event is like going to see a Broadway show with an understudy performing. Guess what? They’re AWESOME. They will dominate. They are not second runner up; they are stars in their own right,” Murin wrote.
You can check out more messages of support for Biles below.