TOPLINE: American gymnast Simone Biles has withdrawn from Thursday’s individual all-around gymnastics final at the Tokyo Olympic Games to focus on her mental health, USA Gymnastics announced on Wednesday, a decision that comes just a day after the four-time Olympic gold medalist had to withdraw from the team event.
In a statement issued on Twitter, USA Gymnastics said Biles’ decision to withdraw was taken following further medical evaluation and it backed the champion gymnast for prioritizing her well-being.
Biles—who won gold in the all-around event in Rio—was scheduled to defend her title in the finals on Thursday.
American gymnast Jade Carey, who ranked ninth in the all-around prelims, will take Biles’ spot in the finals, USA Gymnastics added.
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Apart from the all-around individual event, Biles is in the finals of the four other gymnastics disciplines. The finals of the Vault and Uneven Bars are scheduled to take place on Sunday, the Floor final is scheduled for Monday and the Beam final is on Tuesday. It is unclear if Biles will be able to participate in any of these events.
“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritising her wellbeing. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many,” USA Gymnastics said.
19. That’s the total number of gold medals Biles has won in world events—including the Olympics—making her the most successful gymnast in history. Her achievements also include three silver and three bronze medals at the world level, taking her total medal tally up to 25.
Biles, widely considered the greatest gymnast of all time, pulled out of the team gymnastics final on Tuesday after a vault attempt. Despite her absence, the U.S. team managed to put together a strong performance and managed to secure a silver medal, with the Russian Olympic Committee winning gold. After the event, Biles said she pulled out of the event to focus on her mental health, telling reporters she feared she would injure herself because she wasn’t in the right headspace to perform the risky gymnastics moves in her routine. The star gymnast’s decision to open up about her mental health challenged has earned her praise with fellow athletes and other public figures expressing their support. Former first lady Michelle Obama tweeted her support for Biles late on Tuesday night saying “we are proud of you and we are rooting for you.” Swimming legend Michael Phelps, who holds the all-time record for Olympic gold medals, said Biles’s struggles “broke his heart.” The swimmer who has opened about his own struggles with depression said on Tuesday: “We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders, and it is challenging especially when the lights are on us.” Biles’ Rio 2016 teammate Aly Raisman congratulated the U.S. Team for winning silver and simply tweeted “Love you” at Biles.