'Simone Biles craves attention now can't handle it,' caller says - Shelagh Fogarty responds

29 July 2021, 17:16

By Fiona Jones

Shelagh Fogarty gives a moving response to a listener who claims US Olympic great Simone Biles is "desperate for attention" now can't handle it - despite "plastering herself all over social media.

It comes as the US gymnastics star Simone Biles has withdrawn from her second Olympic final in two days, citing the need to "focus on her mental health".

On Wednesday morning US Gymnastics said Biles had "withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition...in order to focus on her mental health".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

However despite this medical verdict, LBC listener Christopher in Oxfordshire had a verdict of his own, writing to Shelagh: "I think what people have a problem with is sports stars and celebrities plastering themselves all over social media, desperate for the attention, then complaining when they can't handle it. They seem surprised."

Shelagh responded: "I think that's a rather uncharitable take, certainly on Simone Biles' case because she's not talking about the pressure of attention, she's talking about in not very explicit terms...the nature of her mental distress.

"She's just telling us it's there and the least we can do is believe her and respect her right to choose to live her life the way she wishes to.

"Because she's a public figure and because it's the middle of the Olympics, then she has an obligation to say she's doing it, doesn't she? But she doesn't have to tell us why.

"She's already, along with many others sadly in gymnastic, revealed she was sexually abused. Have a heart."

Ms Biles' retweet from fellow gymnast Andrea Orris which has suggested the sexual abuse she endured from former US team doctor Larry Nassar has contributed to her mental health struggles.

Nassar, 57, was convicted of sexually violating numerous young athletes over multiple decades, and was sentenced for up to 175 years in prison.

The tweet from Andrea Orris, which Ms Biles shared with her followers, read: "It makes me so frustrated to see comments about Simone not being mentally tough enough or quitting on her team.

"We are talking about the same girl who was molested by her team doctor throughout her entire childhood and teen years.

"That girl has endured more trauma by the age of 24 than most people will ever go through in a lifetime."We will never know or fully understand her personal choices and struggles."