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Simone Biles Is Still the GOAT After Pulling Out of Olympic Gymnastics Team Competition

Simone Biles cheering on her teammates at the Tokyo Olympics.

Olympic champion Simone Biles withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics team gymnastics final, with uncertainty over her further participation in the rest of this year’s events. Carol Fabrizio, the USA Gymnastics spokeswoman, first announced in a statement, “Simone has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue,” and she reassured fans of Biles by saying, “She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”

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This astonishing withdrawal comes after Biles left the competition floor after struggling to land a vault “that is second nature to her.” When she returned to the floor, USA Gymnastics confirmed her withdrawal due to an apparent injury, but that didn’t stop Biles from removing her grips and cheering on her teammates who were still competing.

USA Gymnastics initially didn’t specify what kind of injury she suffered, but NBC’s John Roethlisberger reported during the live stream, “We’ve just been told that, with regards to Simone withdrawing, it is not injury-related. It is a mental issue that Simone is having.” Just to be clear, mental health issues are just as important as physical injury-related issues, and I don’t know if I’d have the strength to do what Biles did, a.k.a. taking a step back over an event that she’s worked harder toward than we can even begin to dream, with an enormous international spotlight upon her—because of what Biles said she’s struggling with.

While scrolling through social media to see what everyone’s take is when it comes to Biles’s withdrawal, it’s easy to find love for the Olympic champion. Fans were cheering her on, commenting on her strength, and backing her decision to take care of herself. And honestly, the compassion and empathy when it comes to Biles is inspiring on so many levels, even for someone like me who doesn’t really watch sports but who tunes in when the Greatest of All Time is on the screen. Biles is the most decorated gymnast in history, and is so good that entire new moves have been named after her that are so difficult other gymnasts have never even attempted to perform them.

She’s also been through a lot, and everything she’s accomplished in the face of that is amazing. She’s used her voice and her huge platform to advocate for social justice and bring awareness to problems in USA gymnastics. Personally, I think choosing to advocate for her own well-being at this moment in Tokyo makes her all the more impressive. It takes bravery to do what this exceptional woman did, to tell USA Today that therapy and medicine have helped her, and to say, “I just felt like it would be a little bit better to take a back seat and work on my mindfulness,” according to The Washington Post’s report on Biles’ withdrawing from the team all-around final.

Biles’ next scheduled event is the individual gymnastics all-around competition on Thursday, and as for whether or not she’ll be ready to compete again by then, she said, “We’re going to see about Thursday. We’re going to take it a day at a time. I know tomorrow we have a little bit of a break for training, so that’ll be really nice to have a mental rest day. And then injury, no. Just my pride is hurt a little bit.”

The only thing that we can do right now is to support Simone Biles, because whether some people want to admit it or not, we’ve all been through rough patches grounded in anxiety, fear, or just the expectations we put on ourselves. And wherever she is right now, I hope she knows that those who care for her have her back and applaud her for setting boundaries when it comes to her and her mental health.

(image: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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Lyra Hale
Lyra (She/Her) is a queer Latinx writer who stans badass women in movies, TV shows, and books. She loves crafting, tostones, and speculating all over queer media. And when not writing she's scrolling through TikTok or rebuilding her book collection.

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