UPDATED 8:25 p.m. PT: U.S. gymnast Simone Biles has withdrawn from yet another event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, saying Saturday night that she is also pulling out of the individual floor competition scheduled for Monday. It was announced earlier Saturday that she will not be competing in the finals of the individual vault and uneven bars events.
“Today, after further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and the uneven bars,” the earlier statement reads. “She will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor and balance beam. MyKayla Skinner, who had the fourth highest score in vault during qualifications, will compete in vault finals for the U.S. alongside Jade Carey, who with the second highest score.”
Biles has said she was experiencing a mental state known in the gymnastics world as “the twisties,” which she first noticed during practice sessions. Robert Andrews, a mental health expert who worked with Biles from 2013-2017, said he approved of her decision and explained to NBC what the mental block was like.
“The twisties… it’s a symptom of the brain being overwhelmed with too much stress, pressure and anxiety,” Andrews told CNBC. “In essence, the brain is saying it’s not safe enough for you to do these incredibly difficult skills, and if you do, you’re at serious risk of injuring yourself, so she is wise to listen to her brain and her body.”
Support about her decisions over the last week has poured in from her fellow athletes and fans alike. One Olympic enthusiast forwarded a poll taken among co-competitors in Tokyo that showed it considered Biles their hero, which she has received with great gratitude.
Biles, a four-time gold medalist in 2016 who is regarded by many as the greatest gymnast of all time, tweeted on Wednesday: “The outpouring love and support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishment and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.”