With the 2020 Olympics underway in Tokyo, all eyes are on Simone Biles and the U.S. gymnastics teams. It’s no surprise that fans want to see how the talented athlete will do this year after she won five medals — including four gold and one bronze — at the previous Summer Games in 2016. After all, Biles is the most-accomplished gymnastics champion in the world, so fans know more medals are likely to come in her bright future.
On July 25, she took center stage as teams competed in the women’s gymnastics qualifying rounds. Unfortunately, Team USA did not have their best start, and according to People, "the U.S. failed to be at the top of the women’s gymnastics team leaderboard" for the first time in 11 years.
Biles reflected on her shaky preliminary competition performance, writing via Instagram: "It wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke! BUT I’m happy my family was able to be with me virtually. They mean the world to me!" Now, however, news has emerged that Biles has pulled out of the Olympic team final. Scroll ahead to find out why.
Simone Biles is dealing with an unknown medical issue
Simone Biles‘ time at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics hangs in the balance as she has decided to pull out of the teams finals after struggling to land a vault. USA Gymnastics spokeswoman Carol Fabrizio confirmed the news to People on July 27. "Simone has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue," she said in a statement. "She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions."
Per BBC, there were no obvious signs of injury following her performance, in which she could not complete her landing, and "left the arena after scoring 13.766 on the vault in the first rotation." According to USA Today, the Olympic athlete was "visibly upset" as she talked to her coaches and team doctor. It seems she was preparing to compete in the uneven bars, but ultimately decided to watch "as her teammates continued through the meet."
Biles’ unexpected departure means that the U.S. will have to rely on their three remaining gymnasts — Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee, and reserve Jordan Chiles, who replaced Biles. The team currently trails their rivals, Russia, in the competition, per People.
Simone Biles suffered a bad injury in 2019
Simone Biles previously opened up about a foot injury she suffered in 2019 during a May episode of her Facebook Watch series, "Simone vs. Herself," which might explain her unexpected exit from the Olympics. She detailed the injury, explaining that she aggravated the ligament in her foot while training. "So 2019 after Worlds I landed completely the wrong way on floor and partially tore a ligament in my foot," Biles said at the time. "And then maybe two, three weeks ago, I landed short on a triple-double and I was still kind of sideways coming in and I think I re-irritated those ligaments."
The Olympic champion continued, "Right now, what we’re dealing with is I just have a lot of fluid built up in there. There’s nothing we can do at this point. We don’t have time for rest, we don’t have time for shots and all of that stuff — so tape it is."
"I always pray," Biles added. "And I’m like ‘Okay, just please let me survive these 11 weeks.’"
Simone Biles’ coach suggested that her exit was due to mental health concerns
Simone Biles’ nagging foot injury may not be the real reason she pulled out of the Olympics, though, as broadcasters covering the event said her exit was not "injury related" and that her coach suggested "it’s a mental issue that Simone is having," per NBC News reporter Monica Alba. If this is true, Biles’ telling July 26 Instagram post paints an exact image of the pressure she has been feeling: the weight of the world on [her] shoulders.
As of right now, the real reason for her exit remains unclear, but fans have rallied around Biles to support her. "Extremely proud of @Simone_Biles for representing Team USA, but even more proud of her for taking care of her mental health," one person wrote. Another added, "I’m so happy these athletes are focusing on their mental health. It’s just as important as their physical health. We love you, @Simone_Biles! You’re amazing! Take care of yourself, sis."
Kudos to Biles and everyone else prioritizing their health (mental or otherwise).
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.