Simone Biles: Gymnast star pulls out of second Olympic final to 'focus on mental health'

28 July 2021, 08:26

Simone Biles has pulled out from her second event at Tokyo 2020 citing the need to focus on her mental health.
Simone Biles has pulled out from her second event at Tokyo 2020 citing the need to focus on her mental health. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

US gymnastics star Simone Biles has withdrawn from her second Olympic final in two days, citing the need to "focus on her mental health".

On Wednesday morning US Gymnastics said Biles had "withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition...in order to focus on her mental health".

The organisation added: "Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week's individual event finals."

"We wholeheartedly support Simone's decision and applaud her bravery in prioritising her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many."

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Biles had been looking to defend the gold she won in Rio and become the first gymnast to retain a female all-around title at the Games since Vera Caslavska in 1968.

The 24-year-old, who won four golds in Rio, also withdrew from the women's team final on Tuesday in Tokyo after making a mistake on her opening vault.

Simone Biles uncharacteristically stumbled on her landing after the vault.
Simone Biles uncharacteristically stumbled her landing on the vault. Picture: PA

She later confirmed she was not suffering a physical injury, but had decided to take a step back to "work on my mindfulness" because she feared she would not be able to contribute to her team's pursuit of a third consecutive team gold medal.

The USA team went on to win a silver medal, with the Russian Olympic Committee taking the gold from the Americans for the first time since 2008. Team GB claimed the bronze.

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In a remarkably honest interview following the competition, Biles said: "It's been really stressful these Olympic Games, not having an audience. It's been a long week, a long Olympic process, a long year.

"We are just a little bit too stressed out. We should be out here having fun.

She added: "I don’t trust myself as much as I used to. I don’t know if it’s age and I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics.

"I feel like I'm also not having as much fun and this Olympic Games I wanted it to be for myself and it felt like I was still doing for other people. It hurts my heart that doing what I love has been taken away from me to please other people."