It came as a shock to many when Simone Biles withdrew from the women’s gymnastics team final at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
People criticized the decision; some said she abandoned her teammates and let them down. But video of Biles walking off during the competition shows not only the encouragement she gave them, but also the mutual support they gave her as they continued to fight for a medal in Tokyo.
“You guys go out there, do what you were trained to do,” Biles was recorded saying. “I’m sorry. I love you guys, but you’re going to be just fine. I love you. You guys have trained who whole entire lives for this. It’s fine.”
Biles had one foot wrapped when she withdrew from the team final. USA Gymnastics said the withdrawal was due to a medical issue. It wasn’t until later that Biles said it was a result of the Tokyo games being particularly stressful, adding “the mental is not there.”
“It’s been really stressful this Olympic Games,” she said. “It’s been a long week, it’s been a long Olympic process, it’s been a long year. So just a lot of different variables and I think we’re just a little bit too stressed out, but we should be out here having fun and sometimes that’s not the case.”
Biles had hinted previously at the pressure she felt during the Olympics. She posted about it on Instagram after the prelims.
“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,” Biles wrote in the post. “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!”
Praise for Biles flowed in from across the world as well after her withdrawal from the team final.
She has not confirmed that she will return to the Olympics, but she said she is hopeful of taking part in the all-around competition Thursday, The Athletic reported. Biles has already qualified for the finals of the vault, uneven bars, floor exercises and balance beam, which are scheduled for Aug. 1-3.