Simone Biles, the most lauded U.S. gymnast in history, unexpectedly pulled out of the women’s team competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, citing concerns about her mental health.
The four-time Olympic champ said a disappointing opening vault attempt rattled her and “after that performance I just didn’t want to go on.” Her teammates continued on in an ultimately futile fight for the gold medal against a resurgent team from Russia, taking silver instead.
“I’m just dealing with things internally that will get fixed in the next couple of days,” Biles told the BBC.
Asked if she would compete in the all-around event final on Thursday, Biles replied: “Yes.”
She was less certain about that in an interview with NBC’s Today show.
“Physically, I feel good, I’m in shape,” she told Hoda Kotb in Tokyo. “Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn’t an easy feat.”
“We’re gonna take it day by day, and we’re just gonna see.”
After a weekend of videos showing Biles’ gravity-defying prowess in practice sessions, the 24-year-old made an uncharacteristically error-strewn official start in Tokyo preliminaries, posting on Instagram on Monday that she felt the “weight of the world” on her shoulders because of the pressure to perform.
“The Olympics is no joke!” she said.