Simone Biles, four-time Olympic champion, ended her pursuit to defend her individual all-around title in the Tokyo Olympics.
“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health. Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals,” according to a statement released by the USA Gymnastics. “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.”
Individual competitor in Tokyo Jade Carey, who already completed ninth overall in qualifications, will now fight in the all-around.
24-year-old Biles withdrew on Tuesday from the women’s team contest following the first rotation on vault. She cited her mental health as the reason for her decision, as well as the untoward impact of the huge pressure to deliver at the competition.
Celebrities and her fellow athletes globally have expressed their support for her decision. History’s most celebrated Olympian-tuned mental health advocate, Michael Phelps, for instance, relayed his support.
“This Olympic Games, I wanted it to be for myself. But I was still doing it for other people,” Biles on Tuesday shared to the members of the media. “It hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”
Biles, amid an unstable performance during the qualifications, was named the first woman since 1992 to arrive to the final in all six possible Olympic events. Included in these events are the team final, individual all-around final and the vault, balance beam, uneven bars, and floor event finals, NBC Olympics reported.
In the 2016 Olympics, she bagged five medals which included gold in the team final, individual all-around, vault and floor finals, and bronze on beam.