Simone Biles said on Tuesday that she had withdrawn from the gymnastics team final at the Summer Olympics so she could “focus on my mental health” and “not jeopardise my health and well-being.”
USA Gymnastics said earlier in the day that Biles, 24, had “withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue.” The athlete stepped back from the competition after faltering on the U.S. team’s first rotation on vault.
In an interview with reporters after Team USA took home the silver medal, Biles said: “Whenever you get in a high-stress situation, you kind of freak out. I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardise my health and well-being.”
“We have to protect our body and our mind,” she added. “It just sucks when you’re fighting with your own head.”
Biles said tennis star Naomi Osaka, who cited her mental health when withdrawing from the French Open earlier this year, had inspired her to speak out about her own issues.
“I feel like I’m also not having as much fun — and this Olympic Games I wanted it to be for myself and it felt like I was still doing for other people — and that hurts my heart that doing what I love has been taken away from me,” Biles said, adding that she and her teammates are “not just athletes, we’re people at the end of the day.”
“There’s more to life than just gymnastics,” she said.
Biles said her team is planning to have a “mental rest day” on Wednesday.
The gymnast is currently scheduled to compete for the all-around title on Thursday, and on the vault, uneven bars, floor and balance beam from Saturday through Tuesday.