Simone Biles’ teammates are hoping she will be able to return to Olympic competition soon and said Wednesday that the star gymnast “is not a quitter” in response to criticism following her withdrawal from two events in Tokyo.
“She is Simone for a reason,” Team USA’s Jordan Chiles said on NBC’s Today show. “She is not a quitter. You will never see Simone just go out there and not do what she knows she can do.”
Biles responded to critics late Wednesday with an Instagram post from former gymnastics coach and trainer Andrea Orris, which she shared to her story. The post alluded to Larry Nassar, a former team doctor and convicted sex offender who Biles claimed sexually abused her as a child.
The post also mentioned the stress Biles has been under due to health and pandemic-related issues.
“We will never know or fully understand her personal choices and struggles,” the post said. “She does not deserve to have any judgement passed.”
Team USA star Simone Biles shared an Instagram story about her withdrawal from two gymnastics events the 2020 Summer Games on Wednesday from Tokyo. Photo courtesy of Simone Biles/Instagram
Biles’ first withdrawal came Tuesday in the women’s gymnastics team all-around final. The four-time gold medalist completed her first vault rotation, but she did not compete in floor, beam or bars. She did stay in the arena to support her teammates.
Biles told reporters she got “lost in the air” and feared injury as she twisted off the vault. She said she is physically healthy.
USA Gymnastics said Wednesday that Biles then withdrew from Thursday’s individual all-around competition to focus on her mental health. She is being evaluated daily to determine if she can participate in next week’s individual event finals.
“I tried to tell her, look, you know how to do everything,” Chiles said. “This is your moment. It’s all up to you. I can’t say a lot because she has to tell her own story. I’m going to support her no matter what. I’m her teammate and her best friend.
“This was the moment I realized I’ve gotten closer to her than I ever thought. She is my ride or die.”
Chiles appeared with teammate Grace McCallum on Today. McCallum said she was nervous when she performed the bars as the first Team USA competitor after Biles’ exit for the team final.
“I was really stressed, because I knew my routine would probably set the whole mood for the rest of the meet,” McCallum said. “It was a lot of pressure.”
Chiles, McCallum and Sunisa Lee earned a silver medal Tuesday, despite Biles’ exit. The Russian Olympic Committee won the women’s team final. Great Britain placed third.
Jade Carey will take Biles’ place in the all-around individual final on Thursday in Tokyo.
Despite the fact that Biles is widely regarded as the greatest gymnast in history, Team USA women’s gymnasts are expected to compete for gold even if she is unable to compete in future events.
Carey specialises in vaults and floors. At the 2019 World Championships, she finished second in vault to Simone Biles. Lee finished second in floor behind Biles and third in uneven bars at the world championships. COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 world championships.
Carey finished qualifications with the second-best vault score and the third-best floor score. She won the vault and floor competitions at the 2020 Melbourne World Cup, as well as the Doha and Baku World Cups in 2019.
In the team final, McCallum had the second-highest vault, balance beam, and floor scores for Team USA. At the 2021 National Championships, she won a bronze medal and finished third behind Biles and Lee on balance beam.
Lee is a gold medal favourite on the uneven bars and has a chance to medal in the all-around, beam, and floor events as well.
The women’s individual all-around competition airs at 6:50 a.m. EDT Thursday on Peacock. The next women’s gymnastics event, the vault final, airs at 4:45 a.m. EDT Sunday on Peacock. Biles told reporters Tuesday that she hopes to “compete in a couple more events.”
“I say put mental health first,” Biles told reporters Tuesday. “Because if you don’t, you aren’t going to enjoy your sport and succeed as much as you want to.
“It’s OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself. It shows how strong of a person and competitor that you really are.”
Russian Olympic Committee members celebrate after winning the gold medal at the team all-around finals on July 27, beating the United States. Photo by Richard Ellis