Simone Biles has withdrawn from Thursday’s individual all-around competition in Tokyo, citing her mental health.
The move comes only 24 hours after the reigning champion exited the team final early, removing herself from the event after getting lost in the air during her rotation on vault.
“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement on Wednesday.
Biles, the reigning all-around Olympic champion, was heavily favored to repeat gold in the event. The 24-year-old hasn’t lost an all-around competition since 2013.
After withdrawing from the team final, Biles told Hoda Kotb of the “TODAY” show that physically she felt good but “emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment.”
“Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star of the Olympics isn’t an easy feat. So we’re just trying to take it one day at a time, and we’ll see,” Biles said ahead of withdrawing from the individual all-around event.
Biles alluded to the heightened pressure of the Tokyo Olympics in an Instagram post following a shaky showing in qualifying, stating, “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times.”
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Simone Biles (@simonebiles)
A post shared by Simone Biles (@simonebiles)
Former USA Gymnastics teammates Ali Raisman and Laurie Hernandez expressed their support for Biles on the “TODAY” Show.
“There is so much pressure on this woman to go out and dominate,” said Hernandez.
Aly Raisman questioned USA Gymnastics’ preparation for the Games, stating that perhaps the organization should have held the Trials without fans to ready the gymnasts for Tokyo’s empty stadium.
“I don’t know if these athletes have ever competed without fans,” said Raisman.
Biles’ former teammates aren’t the only athletes lending their support. U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky offered her own words of encouragement after winning gold in the 1500-meter freestyle.
“Mental health is so important, physical health is so important, and it’s no different being Olympians.”
Jade Carey will replace Biles, joining Suni Lee in the individual all-around on Thursday. USA Gymnastics says no decision has been made on whether Biles will participate in the upcoming individual events finals.