Four-time gold medalist Simone Biles shocked the world when she withdrew from the gymnastics final at the Tokyo Olympics — but her fellow Olympic gymnasts were quick to back her decision to step away.
On Tuesday, July 27, USA Gymnastics confirmed the beloved athlete would not compete with Sunisa Lee and Grace McCallum, as Jordan Chile would be taking her place. Biles has since addressed her decision to step back from the Olympics to deal with the emotional toll of competing, while noting she is physically OK.
After news broke about the athlete's withdrawal, her fellow gymnasts showed their support and acknowledged the intense pressure Biles has been burdened with, given that she is the most decorated American gymnast.
Aly Raisman — who competed with Biles at the 2016 Rio Olympics — said she feels “sick to her stomach" about the situation, emphasizing how the pressure proved to be too much to bear.
"I am just thinking about the mental impact that this has to have on Simone," the 27-year-old said on Today on Tuesday, July 27. "I think it’s also just really important to think about how much pressure has been on her, and there’s only so much that someone can take."
Raisman alleged people placed Biles on a pedestal, forgetting she is still a human being who faces personal challenges. "She’s human, and I think sometimes people forget that," the 27-year-old insisted. "And Simone, just like everyone else, is doing the best that she can." Overall, Raisman said she is "obviously so worried and just hoping that Simone is OK.”
Laurie Hernandez — who also competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics — agreed with Raisman's claims, noting: "The whole globe is watching her right now and they are speculating every little thing and I can’t imagine what she’s feeling right now."
Hernandez explained the "immense pressure" Biles had to deal with because she didn't want to let her team down. "At the end of the day, mentally, physically, we just want to make sure that she’s OK," the gymnast concluded.
MyKayla Skinner, a fellow Team USA competitor who didn't qualify as an individual competitor, said her "heart broke" for Biles, adding: "I can't even imagine what she's going through right now. I wish I could run down there and give her a big hug."
The 24-year-old's unexpected departure came after her uncharacteristic vault performance, which earned a 13.766 — the lowest score of Biles' Olympics career. After she finished her shaky performance, Biles left with the U.S. team’s medical trainer and returned shortly after with her right leg wrapped.
USA Gymnastics previously announced in a statement that the icon withdrew from the women's team final over a "medical issue."
Biles seemed to hint at the trouble she was facing while competing after she took to Instagram to discuss her challenging times. "I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times," the Olympian wrote on Monday, July 26. "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!” she concluded.