Get InQueensland in your inbox Subscribe

Mental health mystery surrounds withdrawal of gymnastics superstar Biles


Superstar Simone Biles’ Tokyo Olympics future is in doubt after she dropped out of the gymnastics women’s team final after one vault as the United States surrendered the gold to Russia.


Print article

After a disappointing performance that saw her exit early in Tuesday night’s competition, Biles said she was unsure whether she would compete on Thursday in the women’s all-around event.

“After the performance I did I just didn’t want to go on,” said Biles, fighting back tears as she met with the media. “We are going to see about Thursday.

“I’m just trying to gear up for the next test.”

USA Gymnastics said in a statement Biles had withdrawn because of a “medical issue”, and would be assessed daily.

“Injury, no,” she said. “Just a little injury to my pride.”

It was a stunning and disappointing start to the Olympics for the US women, who had expected to dominate the final as they had not been beaten in a major team competition since 2011.

But the entire event was turned on its head in an instant when Biles, the world and Olympic all-around champion, completely mistimed her opening vault to earn a low score of 13.766 and pulled out.

It was a setback the US never recovered from as Russia, competing as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) because the country was stripped of its flag and anthem for doping offences, claimed the team title for the first time since the Unified Team at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

The US, winners in 2012 and 2016, settled for silver and Britain claimed the bronze.

There were signs Biles had been struggling to live up to her high standards.

At the US Olympic trials in June she was left in tears when she was unable to come to grips with the disappointment of her performance.

The pressure of chasing medals continued to build in Tokyo, where there was hype around the possibility of her becoming the greatest female Olympian of all time with a career total of 10 gold.

Biles posting on social media after Sunday’s uninspired qualification effort that she felt she was carrying the weight of the world.

“It wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it,” Biles wrote on Instagram. “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times.

“I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha!

“The Olympics is no joke!”

Biles has qualified for every event in Tokyo and along with the all-around is scheduled to contest four apparatus finals during the second week.

Six golds are now out of reach but Biles could still equal the record of nine held by Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina over three Olympic Games – Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964.

But she hinted some things are more important than medals.

“I do not trust myself anymore,” said Biles. “I tried to go out there for the team and they stepped up to the plate

“I have to focus on my mental health.”

Despite taking a single vault, Biles will add a silver medal to the five she won at the Rio 2016 Games, including four golds.

But the chase for 10 gold is over.

More Olympics stories

Loading next article