Simone Biles Exited Gymnastics Team Finals to 'Focus on My Mental Health,' Uncertain About Tokyo Olympics Future

Team USA’s Simone Biles says that “demons” got the best of her on Tuesday, prompting her to abruptly exit the team finals. “At the end of the day, I have to do what was right for me,” the New York Times quotes the elite gymnast as saying. “It just sucks that it happened at the Olympic Games.”

Biles had completed her first part of the team event, on the vault, but did not go through with a complicated move called the Amanar. (She had a wobbly landing and scored a 13.766 for a 1.5 twist.) Afterward, she left the competition floor with one of the team’s trainers, then later returned wearing the white team track suit and cheering for her teammates from the sides. Teammate Jordan Chiles subbed for her on the uneven bars.

NBC commentators said that a “medical issue,” though not necessarily a physical injury, was behind Biles’ departure from the team finals. USA Gymnastics similarly said in an statement that Biles “has withdrawn … due to a medical issue” and would be “assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”

But ahead of her first Tuesday event, the Times reports, Biles said she began “fighting all of those demons,” alas for naught. “At the end of the day, I have to do what was right for me” by walking away.

After the performance I did, I just didn’t want to go on,” the BBC quotes Biles as saying after exiting the team finals. “I have to focus on my mental health. I just think mental health is more prevalent in sports right now. We have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do.”

“I don’t trust myself as much anymore. Maybe it’s getting older,” she added. “There were a couple of days when everybody tweets you and you feel the weight of the world. We’re not just athletes; we’re people at the end of the day, and sometimes you just have to step back. I didn’t want to go out and do something stupid and get hurt…. At the end of the day we don’t want to be carried out of there on a stretcher.”

According to the Times, Biles is uncertain whether she will compete again at the Tokyo Games, with the all-around final, an individual competition, scheduled for Thursday.

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