Decorated Olympian Simone Biles said she chose not to compete in Tuesday’s team finals at the Tokyo games’ women’s gymnastics competition because she was not in the right mental space after an imperfect performance in the first rotation, or vault event, and did not want to further risk the team.
“I didn’t want to go into any of the other events second-guessing myself,” Biles said, according to the Associated Press. “So, I thought it would be better if I took a step back and let these girls go out there and do their job.”
According to ESPN, after landing the vault during the competition, the 24-year-old star huddled with a trainer and then exited the competition floor with the team doctor.
After returning several minutes later, Biles took off her bar grips and embraced teammates Grace McCallum, Jordan Chiles and Sunisa Lee before putting on a jacket and sweatpants.
"Simone has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue," USA Gymnastics said in a statement, via Twitter. "She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions."
Editor's Note: This story has been updated.
For the rest of the competition the American team was without Biles. The team began on the vault with the Olympic champion slated to go last as she was going to do an Amanar, a vault that begins with a roundoff back handspring onto the table followed by 2½ twists. Midair, Biles did just 1½ twists instead. She then walked off the podium and was tended to by team doctor Marcia Faustin before leaving the arena.
“It’s very uncharacteristic of me,” Biles said. “So it just sucks that it happens here at the Olympic Games than have it happen at any other time. But, you know, with the year that it’s been, I’m really not surprised.”
The United States ended up earning the silver medal in the team competition as Russia took home the gold. Their margin of victory of 3.432 points means no single mistake by the Americans was responsible for their second place-finish, the New York Times reports.
By taking the silver medal, the U.S. team loses their chance at a third consecutive gold medal after winning in 2012 and 2016. If they had won it they would have been the first Olympic team to do it since the Soviet Union in 1952, 1956 and 1960, according to CBS Sports.
Still, Biles is remaining an Olympic gold contender. She will compete to defend her title in the all-around gymnastics competition on Thursday. She has also qualified for all four event finals, but says she will decide whether or not to participate later, according to the AP.
Since news broke of Simone Biles’ withdrawal, social media has shown an outpouring of support for whom many consider the greatest gymnast of all-time.
Janet Jackson posted a photo of Biles and wrote in the caption, 'Sending luv and prayers to you @SimoneBiles. Putting your mental health 1st IS putting you 1st. I stand with you 🙏🏽🖤."
More supportive words came from former First Lady Michelle Obama and others, see below:
The crushing development comes after Biles made a social media post herself on Monday, admitting she felt like the weight of the world was on her shoulders and that the Olympics “were no joke.”
Five years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Biles won five medals and had a chance to top that after advancing to all five finals. It is unclear whether she’ll be available for the all-around final on Thursday night (July 29).